This is a very topical issue due to the controversy surrounding the football clubs who have attempted to sign Ched Evans, a former Sheffield United player who was convicted of rape. In the Evans case, it has been the opinions of the fans, sponsors and the public that has been the most relevant and the deciding factors in offers being withdrawn.
The law in relation to employing ex offenders is governed by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This Act details when convictions become spent and what convictions have to be disclosed to prospective or current employers. The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse to recruit or to dismiss an employee because of a spent conviction. However, as there is a two year service requirement for those employees who wish to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, this rarely becomes an issue.
Not all jobs require CRB checks to be carried out and therefore it may be that during the course of employment an employee notifies you that they have been convicted of an offence whilst employed by you. You may then wish to dismiss the employee depending in the nature and severity of the conviction and of course whether the conviction means that the employee will be required to serve a custodial sentence. In those cases (as the conviction would clearly not be spent at this time) and providing the employee had over two years service, you would need to ensure that you followed a fair and reasonable process in dismissing the employee which would mean;
1. You had a fair reason to dismiss.
2. You followed your own disciplinary process or the ACAS Code of Practice.
Reasons that you may seek to rely upon are “some other substantial reason” or “misconduct” depending on the nature of the offence and whether it was committed during working hours.
Whilst it is highly unlikely in the case of most businesses that public opinion would be a relevant factor, opinions of customers and clients could well be. Third party requests for the termination of an employee’s employment can be relevant and therefore should an issue such as this arise within your workplace, contact the experts here at Premier Legal.