Progress & Prejudice

Shifts in UK employer attitudes to hiring people with convictions

Progress & prejudice

Working Chance has launched its latest research ‘Progress & Prejudice: Shifts in UK employer attitudes towards hiring people with convictions’.

People with criminal convictions face multiple barriers when they start looking for employment. With one in six people in the UK having a criminal conviction, this group makes up a huge part of the population and potential workforce. People with convictions have skills, experience and qualities that would benefit workplaces, but are all too often overlooked.

This market research was conducted with specialists nfpResearch and compares employer attitudes with previous studies from 2010 (by Working Links) and 2016 (commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions).

The findings show that while attitudes are changing, there is still a long way to go to tackle one of the few remaining seemingly acceptable prejudices.

This research provides the most up-to-date facts and figures about employer attitudes towards hiring people with convictions.

Read 'Progress & Prejudice'

What do employers think about hiring people with convictions?

Key findings

The good news

  • The percentage of employers who say that they would, hypothetically, recruit someone with a conviction has increased. It’s now 45%, compared with 25% in 2010
  • Twice as many employers now (compared with 2016) see that there ‘could be advantages’ to hiring someone with a conviction: 24% say there could be advantages, compared to 12% in 2016. The top three potential advantages they saw were: people with convictions would provide different perspectives; it would help to tackle skills and labour shortages; it would improve the organisation’s diversity and inclusion record.
  • The number of employers knowingly recruiting people with convictions is twice as high as in 2010.
  • 86% of employers who had previously recruited someone with a conviction reported a good experience.
  • In the last six years, the proportion of employers who would not hire someone with a conviction under any circumstance has reduced significantly, from a half of all employers to just over a quarter (50% to 27%).

The less good news

  • 30% of employers say they would automatically exclude a candidate who declared an unspent conviction – even though only 15% said it was their organisation’s policy to immediately reject applicants declaring criminal records. This suggests that some hiring managers are making decisions based on prejudice and not in line with their own organisational policy.
  • People with convictions have the lowest interview to hire conversion rate, out of a range of groups generally considered to be disadvantaged in the labour market.