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Are criminal records relevant to potential employers?

Posted by: Tom Elliott | 22 February, 2013 - 3:21 PM
Job interview

TOM ELLIOTT: Over the past few weeks we’ve spoken a fair bit about the new anti-discrimination bill being put together by former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

It may surprise you to learn that even though Ms Roxon has now resigned, the bill itself will live on under the stewardship of new A-G, Mark Dreyfus.

Today I learnt that the body charged with drafting the bill, the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, wants to make it illegal for employers to consider people’s criminal records when deciding whether or not to hire them.

According to Chairman Trish Crossin – yes, the same person recently dumped by the PM in favour of Nova Perris – “discrimination in employment on the basis of a criminal record that is clearly irrelevant should not be tolerated”

Frankly, I find this astonishing. How is a Senate Committee supposed to decide whether or not a criminal record is relevant to a particular job offer?

If I were looking to hire someone in any role, I’d want to know that they were honest and could be trusted. And evidence of a criminal record is a pretty handy way of working this out in advance.

Consider also that for most jobs on offer these days, there are often multiple applications.

Surely if out of ten candidates for one job, 5 have a criminal record and 5 don’t, one way of reducing the list size is to cull those who’ve done time inside?!

Employers need the freedom to hire those best suited to the job.

To do this they try and learn as much as possible in advance about various applicants.

A criminal record is a completely legitimate piece of information for any employer to know about before taking someone on.

LISTEN HERE: Acting Executive Officer with Fitzroy Legal Service Meghan Fitzgerald speaks with Tom Elliott

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Blog comments Your Say

  • I have a criminal record (one offence where I hit a sexual predator resulting in 3 stitches to his face), I have not been able to obtain any employment since this. I have given up finding any work, I was fully employed before this, never unemployed. I have paid over and over again for this and society never forgives.

    michelle Wednesday 27 February, 2013 - 4:36 PM
  • Yes an employee should have all the information available if they are doing their job well. They should also behave reasonable and removing 5 people based on having a criminal record isn't doing their job well. It is taking an easy way out. It may be irrelevant as per Dave's example, and may mean they are missing out on who actually really is the most suitable person for the job in the current time.

    Melanie Monday 25 February, 2013 - 1:21 PM
  • Dave, I agree with you.
    It might be illegal to discriminate based on the record but how does one prove that he/she was discriminated against when all you get (if you are lucky to get a reply0 is "Sorry but you were not successful). It does not tell you why and you have no way of finding out why. So how can the person applying for a job know that there was any discrimination involved?

    If we want people to rehibilitate, then we must allow them the opportunity. If people can't get jobs then they will simply have to go back to crime. What else is there for them? Unemployment benefits for years and years?

    Peggy Sunday 24 February, 2013 - 3:11 PM
  • The prospective employee should also have access to information about employers. I'm not going to work for a crook. There are a lot of dodgy businessmen out there with little scams and rorts. the Employees don't find out until the business folds and they arrive at work to find the boss has done a runner and the front doors are all chained up.

    max Saturday 23 February, 2013 - 1:47 PM
  • The prospective employee should also have access to information about employers. I'm not going to work for a crook. There are a lot of dodgy businessmen out there with little scams and rorts. the Employees don't find out until the business folds and they arrive at work to find the boss has done a runner and the front doors are all chained up.

    max Saturday 23 February, 2013 - 1:44 PM
  • Does that mean his freemason membership Ian.
    Is that secret too.
    I WOULD DISCRIMINATE QUITE OPENLY AGAINST THEM,AND NOT SOMEONE WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD, BECAUSE YOU CAN NEVER TRUST THEM.WHEN THE FREEMASON IS NOT ABLE TO PLAN HIS OWN DESTINY DUE TO ORDERS FROM THE HIERARCHY,THEN THOSE MEMBERS ARE FOOLS. BECAUSE THEY DO INTERFERE UNDRHANDLY WITH JOB EMPLOYMENT,MAIL SORTING/POSTING/RECEIPT OF LETTERS AND INVARIABLY ARE
    POLICE BUDDIES.IT WOULD BE WORTH IT, JUST TO DSPLAY THE SAME CONTEMPT, THEY SHOW AGAINST CATHOLICS.

    all the "nescessary" info Saturday 23 February, 2013 - 11:13 AM

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