The Truth About Criminal Records Checks

At a recent conference that I attended, there was some discussion regarding the use of Criminal Record Checks and how or when the employer is permitted to use the information contained in the report.

It was suggested that some employers use the Criminal Record Check (CRC) information to “justify” not hiring a candidate for a position. This is something that must be considered carefully as the employer could be infringing upon the candidate’s Human Rights.

Some things to consider:

  1. The CRC should only be requested when there is legitimate concern or “bona fide occupational requirement” to do so. For example,
  • employees who work with children or other vulnerable people in the community (home care, social or case workers, teachers or similar occupations);
  • employees who handle large volumes of cash or are primarily responsible for the company’s financial transactions; or
  • other positions of trust.
  1. If the candidate’s criminal record does not contain unpardoned convictions, then the history cannot be used in the hiring decision. Being arrested but not charged means that the person has no criminal record, as far as the hiring process is concerned.
  2. If those unpardoned convictions do not relate directly to the job being applied for, you cannot consider the criminal history when making the hiring decision. Again, someone with a fraud or theft conviction would not be allowed to work with money or inventory, but they could work with children or other capacities that don’t involve financial impact or money.

Essentially, if they can justify the need for the Criminal Records Check, then employers are permitted to ask for them. But be careful how you interpret the information.  Everyone has had moments in life that they regret.  We cannot unduly restrict someone’s ability to earn a living just because they made a mistake or two.  You might accidentally pass up an opportunity to hire an excellent employee!