Legal Article - Employment Law

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 provides that criminal convictions resulting in sentences of longer than 6 months but less than 2 ½ years will be spent after a given period of rehabilitation.

The time required before a conviction is spent e.g. the rehabilitation period, varies depending on the nature and length of the punishment awarded.

For prison sentences of 6 months or less, the rehabilitation period is 7 years, those who receive a fine the period is 5 years. For sentences that result in 2 ½ years or more imprisonment, there is no period of time where the conviction may be spent. 

Where an applicant for employment, or the referee for an applicant for employment, is asked any question relating to spent convictions, offences, conduct or circumstances, he/she may refuse to answer these questions, or may “lie” about the circumstances, and in either case must not be placed under any legal restriction by so doing i.e. refused the job on that ground.

In other words, an employer may not under the Act, ask a prospective employee if he/she has “spent” convictions during recruitment.

The potential employer may ask if the individual has convictions, but the prospective employee is under no obligation to reveal “spent” convictions and may answer “no”.

For other convictions, job applicants or employees are under no general legal duty to voluntarily disclose such information unless they are specifically asked about their past criminal record.

However, where an employer directly questions an employee or job applicant about previous unspent convictions, a deliberately dishonest or evasive reply may subsequently constitute grounds for a fair dismissal or result in the applicant being unsuccessful.

Rehabilitation periods vary depending on the type and length of conviction originally incurred.

 

Sentence / Disposal

Rehabilitation Period for Adults (18 or over at the time of conviction)

Rehabilitation Period for Young People (under 18 at time of conviction)

Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution for over 30 months (2 ½ years)

Never Spent

Never Spent

Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution over 6 months but not exceeding 30 months   2 ½ years)

10 Years

 5 Years

Imprisonment up to 6 months

7 Years

3 ½ Years

Fine

5 Years

2 ½ Years

Community Service

5 Years

2 ½ Years

Conditional Discharge

The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)

The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)

Absolute Discharge

6 Months

6 Months

Conditional Caution

3 Months

3 Months

Simple Caution, Reprimand, Final Warning

Spent Immediately

Spent Immediately

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Some sentences carry variable rehabilitation periods. The main ones are as follows:


 

Sentence / Disposal

Rehabilitation Period for Adults (18 or over at the time of conviction)

Rehabilitation Period for Young People (under 18 at time of conviction)

Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution for over 30 months (2 ½ years)

Never Spent

Never Spent

Imprisonment or detention in a young offender institution over 6 months but not exceeding 30 months   2 ½ years)

10 Years

 5 Years

Imprisonment up to 6 months

7 Years

3 ½ Years

Fine

5 Years

2 ½ Years

Community Service

5 Years

2 ½ Years

Conditional Discharge

The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)

The period of the order, or a minimum of 12 months (whichever is longer)

Absolute Discharge

6 Months

6 Months

Conditional Caution

3 Months

3 Months

Simple Caution, Reprimand, Final Warning

Spent Immediately

Spent Immediately

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The rehabilitation periods given above may be reduced by half for a person under 17 at the time the sentence was passed.
Where a person is convicted as a young offender, certain other sentences may be passed.
The rehabilitation period runs from the date of sentencing.
A conviction cannot be spent under the Act if it incurred a sentence of more than 2 years in prison, preventative detention or their equivalent for young persons.

The Act does not apply to some occupations. In the retail motor industry this would apply to chartered accountants, certified accountants, solicitors, or nurses, although only the larger companies in the industry are likely to employ such people.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Published: 24 Mar 2011

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