Reformed Offenders need Protections when Returning to Workplace
Senator Ruane will be bringing forward her legislation providing for greater access to the legal right not to disclose an old conviction for a minor offence (also known as a ‘spent conviction’) for further debate in the Seanad today.
Senator Ruane will also be proposing additional changes to the draft law, including statutory provisions ensuring reformed offenders are not disadvantaged by prospective or current employers on the basis of a conviction that has become spent.
Speaking before the Seanad debate on the legislation, Senator Ruane said:
“There is a social and economic cost if a former offender is not offered or loses their job solely due to an old conviction for a minor offence, even after years of not offending. The employer loses out on potential talent and the former offender is denied a chance to gain employment, leave offending behaviour in the past and reintegrate into society.”
“When we legislate for a conviction to become spent, we are telling that individual that it is no longer on their record and they are entitled to no longer disclose it. However, without this change to employment law, we implicitly allow employers to discriminate on the basis of a conviction which the State has deemed is no longer relevant.”
“If your conviction is spent, you currently have the right not to disclose that conviction in a job interview. However, in the internet era and when background checks are becoming routine in recruitment, current and prospective employees need to be protected from being disadvantaged where the employer finds out about the conviction through other means.”
“We all benefit when former offenders are able to demonstrate their capacity for change and employers need to take their social responsibility in this area seriously. This is my motivation for tabling these proposals and I hope to receive the Seanad’s support on Wednesday,” she concluded.
The Criminal Justice (Rehabilitative Periods) Bill 2018 received the unanimous cross-party support of the Seanad at second stage in February of this year. It returns for a committee stage debate on November 20th from 5pm, you can watch live here.
The bill proposes a number of amendments to the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016. These include:
- Increasing the length of sentences eligible to become spent convictions.
- Increasing the number of convictions an individual can have spent.
- Creating more generous provisions for young adults aged 18-23.
- Making the wait period until a conviction becomes spent proportional to the sentence.
Senator Ruane is proposing a number of additional changes to strengthen the bill today on foot of cross-party recommendations from the recent Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee report. These include:
- Removing the limit on the number of convictions an individual can have spent.
- Increasing the age at which a young adult is defined from 23 to 24.
- Making it easier for drug offences for simple possession to become spent.
You can read the full list of amendments being proposed today here.