Ban the box is a fantastic initiative led by the charity Business in the Community (BITC). It first launched in 2013. The campaign is meant to break down as many possible barriers for ex-offenders in the recruitment cycle. Many organisations still ask about criminal records on your application or expect HR professionals to understand and respond to the disclosure of convictions. In practice, this often means that people with a criminal record are excluded from the roles to which they are more than suitable and capable of doing.
So far, and true as off the 6th of January 2021, 145 employers have signed up to the campaign. These employers have agreed to give ex-offenders a fair chance in competing for the job by removing the tickbox on the application forms that confirms a criminal record. Moreover, they have also agreed not to ask people about their criminal convictions and assess the individual based on their ability first.
If you are an employe reading this and interested in signing up, here is a form to do that. Business that employ ex-offenders report many reasons to work with prisoners and ex-offenders. Employers report benefits such as:
- Initial recruitment costs are reduced
- Skills shortages resolved
- Reducing staff absence
- Increase staff retention
Businesses that are already working with ex-offenders
Do ex-offenders have any qualifications or the skills needed to work?
The guys on-site, they are just like everybody else that we come across as an employer. We find they come with a variety of skills and we ensure they are then given the correct training so they can go to work and join in with the team.
Claire Coombs, Development Manager, Keltbray
Will they turn up for work if I take a chance on them?
We have found that the level of retention of our graduates from the [prison] academy is higher than the level of retention of our normal employed sales floor workers.
Andy McBride, Head of Resourcing and People Shared Services, Halfords
Can I really rely on offenders to be part of my workforce?
Pret has been working with both Working Chance and Novus for several years to take ex-offenders on to our Rising Stars Programme. We see this as an excellent talent pool with many Rising Stars enjoying a great career within Pret.
Nicki Fisher, Head of the Pret Foundation Trust, Pret A Manger
What do you commit to if you sign up to the Ban the Box campaign as an employer?
- Any tick boxes on the application that refer to a criminal conviction should be removed
- In the recruitment process, skills, experience and potential should be assesses before asking about criminal convictions
- As an employer you shall give the applicant an opportunity to explain their criminal history if they wish to do so after disclosing the criminal history
- Educate relevant staff in the recruitment process to ensure that any convictions are fairly assess against the rest of the application before coming to a conclusion
Example of employers that went ahead and signed up to the campaign
Allen & Overy is one of the world’s top law firms with expertise in banking & finance, M&A, litigation, funds, IP, and related business solutions.
Boots UK LTD are a British health and beauty retailer with a pharmacy chain in the UK and other countries including Ireland, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands and Thailand.
Cambridge University Press, part of Cambridge University, invest in education and research solutions. Watch this video for more
Virgin Trains was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by Virgin Rail Group, a joint venture between Virgin Group and Stagecoach.