A couple of new bits of legislation came onto the statute books over the past few weeks, which are especially relevant to those looking to recruit.
New rehabilitation of offenders rules are aimed at helping more people into work by reducing the time that many offences are notifiable. In other words, how long after their sentence do ex-offenders have to continue to disclose their sentences to a prospective employer. The other part, which slipped through rather unannounced in September, relates to Right to Work checks, to EU citizens and to the penalties for getting this very important process wrong.
First of all, numerous statistics show the problems that ex-offenders have getting back into employment after their sentences have been served. The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Act 2022 makes some changes.
First of all, it is worth saying that the most serious offences are exempt from these provisions, mainly offences classified as “serious violent, sexual and terrorism offences”. But the main changes are:
- Those with sentences over 4 years were previously required to disclose their sentence indefinitely. For all but the most serious offences, this requirement now disappears 7 years after they come out on license.
- For sentences of 2½ – 4 years, the length of time they are required to be disclosed is reduced from 7 to 4 years.
- Sentences of 1 – 2½ years remain unchanged at 4 years.
- Those 6 -12 months are reduced from 4 to 1 year.
- Those up to 6 months from 2 to 1 year.
There are some further requirements around those who reoffend within a certain time, but broadly speaking, these new disclosure requirements are aimed at improving ex-offenders chances of developing a career. Particularly those who have served shorter sentences.
It is also worth remembering that you should not request details of criminal offences unless you have good reason related to the job and employment sector you are asking people to undertake, e.g. education, health and social care. The whole point of legally requiring ex-offenders to declare unspent convictions is to save most employers having to do this.
With regards to Right to Work legislation, the penalty for getting it wrong has gone up from £45,000 to £60,000 per employee. A significant hike, and it is hoped by the Government to be a significant deterrent.
And, in a very unheralded change, those with EU pre-settled status obtained before 1st July 2021 have now had that status extended automatically by two years. This should potentially give them up to a maximum of 7 years to claim settled status in the UK, which once achieved means, subject to certain conditions, they have indefinite leave to stay and work within the UK.
We have covered this in previous webinars and updates, but a very full guide to right to work checks can be found on the Government’s website here.
If you are in any doubt, we may be able to help you, but remember we are not immigration lawyers but HR specialists. In particularly tricky cases, this is a very specialist area of legal expertise.
Finally, it is important to make sure that right to work checks for all (and DBS checks if so required), make up a key part of completing your selection process, including we would add, the receipt of satisfactory employment references.
The guidance provided in this article is just that – guidance. Before taking any action, make sure that you know what you are doing, or call an expert for specific advice.