During recruitment, an employer can ask job applicants or volunteers to get an AccessNI basic check to reveal unspent convictions. Employers in certain professions must get standard or enhanced checks. When these employers recruit for specific jobs, they are legally entitled to ask about your spent convictions.
AccessNI checks and an employer’s legal requirements
An employer is responsible for knowing when basic, standard or enhanced checks are required for jobs or volunteer roles. There are legal obligations for employers when they recruit.
When asking job applicants about spent and unspent convictions, employers must keep to the law on rehabilitation of offenders. Find out more about an employer's obligations and the requirement to act fairly at the following nidirect pages.
In most cases, applicants don’t need to declare a spent conviction to an employer. But some employers are exempt from this rule. They can ask job applicants or volunteers to apply for an AccessNI check which will reveal spent convictions.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (NI) 1978 employers and licensors can ask applicants exempted questions for specific roles.
Enforced Subject Access
Employers cannot ask an employee or job applicant to request information, on their criminal history directly from the police. It is an offence for an employer to do so. If employers need to check criminal history information they must go through Access NI.
- Data protection guidance - Ministry of Justice website
- Law change on 10 March 2015 outlaws ‘back door’ criminal record check - Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website
Applying for a standard or enhanced check
Registered bodies are AccessNI-approved organisations. Only these organisations are authorised to make applications for standard and enhanced checks. To apply for a check or for more information on registered bodies and their responsibilities go to the following nidirect page.
Employers can recheck their staff. It is up to the employer to decide if they want to have a re-checking policy and to decide the intervals for re-checking. Some employers recheck every two or three years. Others rely on employees declaring any changes to their criminal records.
Giving a job to an applicant with convictions
Unless there is a bar, a conviction should not automatically disqualify an individual. An employer should consider if a conviction is relevant to the post.
Sometimes the applicant is committing an offence by applying for the post. An individual on one or both of the Disclosure and Barring Service's barred lists is breaking the law if they apply to work in regulated activity. For more information on the Disclosure and Barring Service visit the following nidirect page.
Complaining about information on a disclosure certificate
If you disagree with information on your certificate, you must write to AccessNI and raise the complaint as a dispute.