Job applicants are all too familiar with a section of the application process that typically asks, “Have you ever been convicted before?”. From an employer’s perspective, it is their responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and knowing about the criminal past of potential employees provides invaluable insights, like their suitability for the specified roles.
It’s so important that over 85% of employers perform criminal history checks as part of their standard background check procedure at point of entry. However, imagine an applicant lies about their criminal past, and for some reason, this information remains hidden and they slip through the cracks. What impact can it have in the workplace? This post aims to explore the consequences of lying about criminal records in the workplace.
Increased risk of violence or sexual harassment
Imagine an employee who has been convicted for repeated violence, it’s just a matter a time before he/she gets involved in a fight in the workplace. Or imagine an employee that’s a sex offender, the chances of he or she harassing co-workers is pretty high.
Employees are supposed to have clear boundaries and work with the utmost professionalism. Workers with violent nature or uncontrollable sexual urges pose a serious threat to the overall safety of the workplace.
This can be worse if the employee works with vulnerable groups like children or the elderly. Acts of violence or sexual abuse can immensely tarnish the image of their company.
Higher risk of fraud
Over 40% of workplace fraud is instigated by employees. That’s why credit history and criminal history checks are an important part of background checks. A person that has been convicted of financial crimes may be tempted to do it again if placed in a finance-related position. Fraud or theft is a serious issue for employees because it means loss of revenue. And without sufficient revenue, the business runs at risk of shutting its doors.
What Employers Can Do
In unfortunate scenarios, it is not until the employee does something bad before their employer finds out about their criminal record. In such scenarios, the damage has already been done and it becomes a liability for the employer.
That’s why pre-screening checks are a must for every employer. A national police check australia can help employers find out about an applicant’s criminal record. Moreover, rescreening at regular intervals should be adopted by employers. This helps to discover employees that might have slipped through the cracks or got convicted after they got employed.
Actions Employers Can Take Against Liars
If an employer eventually discovers that an employee lied about their criminal past, the actions they can take against them is highly dependent on the nature of the lie, severity of the crime, and how long they’ve been with the employer.
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Concerning spent convictions, (In Australia, a conviction is considered ‘spent’ if it’s 10 years since the date of conviction or 5 years for juvenile offenders), an employee should not dismiss an employee for failing to disclose a spent conviction. It may lead to a claim for unfair dismissal, especially if the employee has been with the employer for over two years and has been of good behavior. However, an employer may take action if the employee is relatively new for breach of trust and confidence.
If an employee acquires a criminal record during their employment, the employer has to decide if it’s relevant and if it will have an impact on their suitability for ongoing employment. For instance, if a person working with children is convicted of violence, he or she might have to be dismissed.
In situations where employees fail to disclose ‘unspent’ convictions during the hiring process, employers have the right to take the necessary actions they deem fit, even if it’s dismissal.
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