The Impact of Criminal Record Checks on Hiring: Balancing Safety with Second Chances

Employers face a dilemma when considering job applicants with a criminal history. Running criminal record checks allows them to screen for potential risks and cultivate a safe workplace. However, these checks can unfairly penalise individuals who have already paid their debt to society, making it difficult to secure employment and rebuild their lives. Finding the right balance between maintaining safety and providing second chances is an ongoing challenge that requires careful consideration.


Recognising Chances for Redemption


A criminal record should not automatically disqualify someone from being hired. For many offences, especially from years ago, the crime may have little bearing on their current ability to be a trustworthy, productive employee. An old marijuana possession charge, for instance, doesn’t necessarily indicate whether someone is now qualified and responsible enough to work as an accountant or in sales. Excluding a candidate based on a timeworn mishap can cause employers to overlook talented individuals.


Evaluating Relevance and Risk


Certain crimes may raise legitimate concerns about potential workplace threats that employers must weigh. Let’s take an assault charge, for example. An individual found guilty of a violent crime warrants careful consideration before placing them in a customer-facing role. In some cases, the law provides strong guidelines around criminal records. One such example is in the finance segment.

The South African government has made criminal record checks a legal requirement for anyone seeking employment in the financial sector. The scope of these checks is broad, covering past convictions and pending criminal charges against the applicant. Certain crimes – such as fraud, theft, corruption, and money laundering – are particularly problematic and can disqualify someone from employment in sensitive financial roles. While having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily disqualify a candidate, the decision ultimately rests on the nature of the offence and its relevance to the job role.


The South African Context


Providing employment opportunities for former offenders promotes societal reintegration and reduces recidivism. However, criminal records remain a significant employment barrier. Criminal record expungement, introduced in 2009, offers a second chance through legal clearance of certain offences from the National Criminal Register.

What are the eligibility criteria for a criminal record expungement? The offence must have been relatively minor with no imprisonment sentence, no further crimes committed, and fines under R20,000. Serious offences like sexual crimes against vulnerable persons, violent crimes, and infractions included in registries like the National Register for Sex Offenders are ineligible.

While not available to all former offenders, expungement allows some to move forward without being permanently defined by past mistakes. It promotes employment chances and societal reintegration for eligible reformed individuals, demonstrating rehabilitation over time.


The Balanced Approach: Promoting Second Chances Responsibly


Achieving the right balance between hiring safe candidates and providing deserving individuals with a fair second chance is undoubtedly challenging. However, making the effort is immensely worthwhile for employers and society alike. An overly harsh policy shuts out talented individuals and denies those who have paid their dues a viable path to stability and reintegration. A nuanced approach considers the full context beyond just the criminal record itself – the specific offence, demonstrated efforts towards rehabilitation, and time passed since the criminal record.


HURU: Your Partner in Informed Hiring


If you’re an employer committed to making informed yet safety-conscious hiring decisions, HURU can be an invaluable partner. HURU’s efficient and reliable criminal record check service delivers accurate real-time results you can trust. We leverage fingerprint biometrics as a crucial component of our criminal record checking services. Our advanced biometric verification systems provide the comprehensive record required to make fully informed choices.


If prioritising ethics while cultivating a secure workplace is important to your organisation, connect with us today. We’ll ensure you have the proper criminal record insights to thoughtfully evaluate candidates with previous criminal records. Give us a call, register an account online, or visit our website to learn more about how HURU can enable your balanced second chance hiring approach.


Why Tech Companies Can’t Afford to Skip Criminal Record Checks

Criminal Record Checks for Volunteer Organisations in South Africa: Ensuring Safety

Criminal Record Checks in the Financial Sector: A Critical Tool for Fraud Prevention in South Africa

Register an account to start a verification