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How to find employment in Australia with a criminal record

Martin Castilla            No comments            Jun, 21

When you’re fresh out of prison the best way to make sure you don’t go back there is to stay away from the so-called friends and the kind of activities that got you into trouble. Also, you need to find yourself a job and earn an honest pay. How can you do that with a criminal record? It’s not easy, that’s for certain, but it’s entirely doable. For that, you need to know your rights and, most important, how to behave when you go to a job interview.

Do Australian employers have a right to ask for police checks?

There are two situations when an Australian company can ask job applicants to submit to a background check.

There are certain jobs, in healthcare or in anything that has to do with children or vulnerable people, for which background checks are mandated by law. It’s not the employer’s decision, they are required by law to make sure they don’t hire dangerous people.

On the other hand, many other Australian companies now require police checks simply as a means of protecting their business and their staff.

What you need to know is that, under the law, they can only ask for a background check if it’s relevant for the job. Say you’re looking for a job as a bricklayer, it’s hard to imagine what sort of offences might be considered relevant for the job. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a job as a cashier, they are entitled to ask for a national criminal history check to make sure you were never convicted for theft or other financial crimes.

Do you have to disclose your criminal record?

Once again, there are two types of situations. If you committed a minor offence long ago, that conviction will be spent in 10 years, if you were an adult at the time. For crimes committed as a minor, the convictions become spent in just 5 years. According to the law, if your convictions are spent you don’t have to disclose your criminal record.

Also, if the employer runs a background check on you, they won’t find anything as spent convictions are not disclosable. If you need to find out if a certain conviction has become spent all you have to do is order a background check on yourself. It’s very simple, and all you need is a computer, tablet or mobile phone to access an online character check agency. They work very fast and you’ll get to see what your criminal record looks like in 2-3 business days. If the record is clean, go to your job interview and say that you don’t have a record.

On the other hand, if your conviction is not spent, it will be on your record if the employer runs a background check. Keep in mind that as per the rules of popular services like Australian national character check (website link: employers are not allowed to run a background check without your informed consent.

Anyway, if you’re in this situation, it’s best to be honest about it. If they question you about your past, tell them what happened and what drove you to commit a crime. Make sure to add that you’ve changed and that prison was a sobering experience. 

All you want now is a chance to lead a normal life. Many employers appreciate this type of honesty and if you come across as sincere they will offer you a job.