The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the law requiring job applicants to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.
Currently, an employer may request an enhanced or standard criminal record certificate for certain types of employment. The system for enhanced CRB checks (for those working with children and vulnerable adults) requires the automatic blanket disclosure of all convictions, cautions and warnings. This is irrespective of how old the conviction is or its relevance to the job being applied for. The courts have held that this system is incompatible with the right to a private and family life.
The ruling today centred on a 21-year-old man who had received warnings from the police when he was 11 years old in connection with two stolen bikes. The information was disclosed on two occasions; when he applied for a part-time job at a local football club at the age of 17 and later when he applied for a university course in sports studies.
The court recognised the value of disclosing convictions if an applicant wanted to work with children or vulnerable adults, but said that the current system is "disproportionate to that legitimate aim" and further noted that "the disclosure of historic information about convictions…can lead to a person’s exclusion from employment".
The ruling could mean job applicants in England and Wales do not have to disclose all criminal records when applying for certain jobs. Some employers may welcome this if they feel unable to assess the relevance of old and minor convictions or cautions and would favour the Government making a decision to filter them out, as appropriate. As the court noted, employers do not always have the resources and training to fully weigh up and understand what is being presented in a CRB certificate and may simply decide to err on the side of caution.
This is unlikely to be the end of the road for this issue. The court said it would be for Parliament to devise a "proportionate" scheme. They refused the Government permission to appeal but said this decision should not take effect before determination of a renewed application by the Supreme Court.