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BITC calls on more employers to 'ban the box'

Business is the Community wants more organisations to commit to being open to hiring those with a criminal record

Business in the Community (BITC) wants employers to rethink the way they treat young job applicants with criminal convictions, and consider 'banning the box'.

The Ban the Box campaign calls on UK employers to create a fair opportunity for ex-offenders to compete for jobs by removing the tick-box for unspent criminal convictions from application forms, and asking about convictions later in the recruitment process.

In a snapshot survey carried out by BITC and Milton Keynes College at Glen Parva Young Offenders Institution ‘having a criminal conviction’ was the most commonly-cited barrier to work, highlighted by 63% of young offenders who took part.

Nicola Inge, campaign manager for BITC, said that a criminal record adds another layer of difficulty for young people looking for their first jobs. “As a group, young people already face serious barriers to work due to a lack of work experience and limited professional network," she said. "When you combine that with recruitment practices that use the tick-box to filter out candidates with convictions finding a job can feel like an insurmountable challenge for a young jobseeker.

“Young people in custody are being given the opportunity to gain qualifications and work experience through programmes like those run by Milton Keynes College at Glen Parva. It’s very disappointing to think this training might be going to waste because of recruitment practices that block candidates with a criminal record."

Kathryn Wildman, lead recruiter at Ban the Box employer Virgin Trains, explained the business case for banning the box. "At Virgin Trains we’ve been hiring ex-offenders for several years and haven’t looked back," she said. "In that time no-one has re-offended. We have always believed in hiring the best person for the job, no matter where they come from, and the added benefit here is that society benefits too. As a business we are tapping into a source of motivated young people that many other companies might overlook, which is a shame for both the employers and potential new employees.”

Ban the Box calls for employers to:

  • Remove the default tick-box asking about unspent criminal convictions from job application forms
  • Publicly commit to considering applicants’ skills, experience, and ability to do the job before asking about criminal convictions

To date 75 employers have signed up to the campaign and removed the criminal record tick-box from their application forms taking the total number of jobs covered by Ban the Box to more than 700,000.