Published byCIPD

CIPD Trust publishes guide to support organisations in recruiting and retaining people with convictions

New guide also highlights business benefits of employing people with convictions, including tackling skills gaps and reducing recruitment costs

The CIPD Trust has today launched a guide supporting organisations to recruit, employ and retain people who have convictions or lived experience with the criminal justice system.

The Guide to recruiting, employing and retaining people with convictions provides practical recommendations for employers looking to broaden their talent pool to include those with convictions, which is around one in four people of working age in the UK. It also covers how employers can communicate their approach internally and externally.

It also outlines the business benefits this can bring, including reducing recruitment costs, addressing skills and talent gaps, creating diverse workforces, enhancing company brand and reputation, and contributing to social responsibility.  

According to official data*:

  • 12.3 million people in the UK have a conviction, including around one in four people of working age.
  • Only 17% of ex-offenders manage to get a job within a year of release, yet reoffending costs the economy approximately £18 billion a year.
  • 86% of employers of people with convictions rate them as good at their job – and they often also have higher levels of loyalty and retention.
  • 92% of employers say diverse recruitment has enhanced their reputation, helping them to win new contracts.

Sally Eley, Head of Trust at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented:

“Around a quarter of working age people in the UK have a conviction. That’s a large number of individuals with vital skills, experience and knowledge who can make an important contribution to society. At the same time, many organisations are struggling to recruit the right people. The CIPD Trust is particularly passionate about supporting and mentoring people facing barriers – including those with a conviction – and we do this through utilising the unique knowledge and skillset of our people professionals.

“Research has shown that people with convictions have high levels of loyalty and retention and by being open to this approach, employers can fill skills gaps, reduce recruitment costs and create sustainable talent pipelines. 

“Our new guide will provide practical support to people professionals, leaders and organisations of any size, who are looking to challenge the status quo, transform their own hiring practices and champion real social change.”

J. Murphy & Sons, a specialist engineering and construction company, are part of a national offender employment programme and have offered over 100 jobs to prison leavers in the past two years. They work directly with prisons to support prison leavers build the skills they need to transition into the workplace, as well as in the recruitment stage.

Dawn Moore, Group People and Communications Director at J. Murphy & Sons, said:

“At J. Murphy & Sons, every prison leaver is treated just like any other employee. They are not just starting a new job; they are being given an opportunity to make a fresh start. Organisations who want to employ people with convictions should have clear communication plans for employees, setting out the business benefits and how it will help to address any current challenges, engage directly with local prisons or support agencies, and take the time to ensure that job requirements are clear.”

The Guide to recruiting, employing and retaining people with convictions provides recommendations for employers, including:

  • Highlight your approach to recruiting people with convictions in job advertisements and career pages on your website. Let people know that you do not discriminate against people with convictions. 
  • Train recruiting managers on your policy and any relevant legislation relating to recruiting and managing employees with convictions, as well as fair and inclusive recruitment practices. 
  • Seek out suitably qualified mentors or champions where appropriate, to support people with convictions joining the organisation. Allies can play a powerful role in creating an inclusive culture and help to provide valuable support. 
  • Communicate your strategy for employing prison leavers both externally and internally, reassuring existing employees about checks in place. External communication is also good for your reputation, your employer brand, and will help to drive candidates to your vacancies.