Changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 supports reformed offenders entering the workplace.  Following a specified period of time – which varies according to the sentence – an offender’s cautions and convictions become ‘spent’ and the offender is regarded as rehabilitated.

This means the Act treats a rehabilitated person as if he or she had never committed/been charged with/charged or prosecuted for/convicted or sentenced for the offence – which means the offender is not required to declare their spent caution/convictions when applying for most jobs.

The Act also means that an employer cannot refuse to employ someone, or dismiss someone, because he or she has a spent caution or conviction (unless there is an Exception Order, see below).

All cautions and convictions may eventually become spent, with the exception of prison sentences or sentences of detention of young offenders of over four years, and with the exception of all public protection sentences, regardless of the length of the sentence. Public protection sentences are imposed for specific sexual and violent offences.

The changes introduced on 10th March 2014, shorten the Rehabilitation Periods required – i.e. the length of time before a caution or conviction becomes ‘spent’.

This has been done by the Government in order to tackle re-offending and get previous offenders back into work. Government research shows that former offenders who gain employment are less likely to re-offend.

We look at what this Act means to Employers and employees here.

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