New legislation came into effect at the end of October 2023 which has reduced the period of time during which criminal convictions are legally required to be declared to employers. Under the previous legislation it was necessary for some offenders to disclose their convictions for the rest of their lives, which was seen as a barrier to employment. The Government has suggested that these changes should make it easier for over 120,000 former offenders to find work.

The table below sets out a summary of the changes:

Length of custodial sentence for adultsPrevious length of time to discloseNew length of time to disclose
Custodial sentence of over 4 yearsNever spent7 years
Custodial sentence of 2 ½ years – 4 years7 years4 years
Custodial sentence of 1 – 2 ½ years4 years4 years
Custodial sentence of 6 months – 1 year4 years1 year
Custodial sentence of up to six months2 years1 year

However, it still remains the case that some convictions are never spent, e.g.  convictions for serious violent, sexual and terrorism offences and stricter disclosure rules will continue to apply for jobs involving work with vulnerable people.

In light of these changes, employers will need to make sure any relevant forms and systems are updated to reflect the new time periods.