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Published On: Wed, Sep 16th, 2020

Criminal History Certificate With a Criminal Record? Here are the possibilities that can happen

Searching for a job without a criminal record is challenging enough. Unfortunately, applicants with criminal records mostly have to go through the extra hurdle of explaining their criminal past to potential employers. About 86 percent of Australian employers carry out criminal history checks during pre-hire screening, so it’s quite an unavoidable hurdle. That’s why this post will examine what could happen if an applicant’s criminal history certificate contains a criminal record. 

Why Employers Carry Out Criminal History Checks?

Who can blame employers for wanting to find out if a potential hire is a convicted embezzler before hiring him/her as the company’s CFO? Furthermore, an employer becomes liable for an employee’s actions if they fail to carry out a criminal history check beforehand. For instance, if an applicant has previous records of violence but the employer fails to check, the employer will be held liable for any act of workplace violence perpetrated by that employee.

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photo/ witwiccan

What Does a Criminal History Check Include?

A criminal history check or an afp police check provides a summary of a person’s police history information in Australia. It usually includes:

  • Court appearances
  • Court convictions, including any penalty or sentence
  • Findings of guilt with no conviction
  • Charges
  • Matters awaiting a court hearing.

What It Doesn’t Include?

A criminal history certificate doesn’t contain information about spent convictions. A spend conviction is one that has been expunged from a person’s record after a certain time has elapsed. Generally speaking, a spent finding is a criminal offense older than 5 years old if convicted as a child, or an offense older than 10 years old if convicted as an adult. However, convictions for certain crimes stay unspent and will always appear on a criminal record.

How Criminal History Can Affect Employment Prospects.

Unlawful Discrimination against a person based on their criminal past is illegal in Australia. However, a plethora of valid complaints of such actions have been reported to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC). While the law makes it clear-cut when an applicant is unfit for certain roles, many other gray areas are left to the discretion of employers. 

Here are some of the ways a criminal history can affect an applicant’s employment prospects. 

  • Job Involving Vulnerable Groups

For roles involving working with children or the elderly, having a criminal record will drastically reduce or eliminate the possibility of securing that job, especially if the person was previously convicted of violence or sexual assault. It’s just the law!

  • Financial Roles

If a person has been convicted of fraud or theft, then such a person is unlikely to get hired into any money-related roles. Employee theft is one of the greatest challenges employers face and they will do everything in their power to minimize it, even if it means denying employment to a formerly convicted thief or fraudster. 

A Cautionary Tale

Ms. Christensen applied for a job as a bartender in the Adelaide Casino but was denied employment on the basis that she stole two bottles of alcohol when she was 15 years old. From the employer’s perspective, this action made Ms. Christensen unfit for the role as it calls her trustworthiness into question. Ms. Christensen filed a complaint to HREOC.

In 2002, the Attorney-General ruled in favor of Ms. Christensen that her denial was discriminatory due to several mitigating factors

  1. She was 15 when the conviction occurred.
  2. The conviction was 8 years old.
  3. Since her conviction, she had held several jobs in the hospitality industry as a waitress and even a bar manager where she handled large amounts of money. She even provided references to some of her former employers. 

This example shows why the criminal history of an applicant must be interpreted in context by potential employers. Unfortunately, not everyone will get lucky like Ms. Christensen, and many have to face discrimination based on their past crimes.  

Author: Sean Wen

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