Australian Human Rights Commission | 10 April 2012
Doing time for the crime doesn’t always mean the end of employment possibilities.
Having a criminal record can be a major obstacle for people when job seeking which is why the Commission has just updated On the Record - Guidelines for the prevention of discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record.
Commission President Catherine Branson QC said that failing to give someone a job, a promotion or even dismissing them because of a criminal record could leave an employer open to a claim of discrimination.
“Every employer has the right to employ someone of their own choosing, based on a person’s suitability for a job,” she said.
“Employers best understand the main requirements of that job and what qualities an employee needs to meet those requirements.
“But it’s also in employers’ interests to treat job applicants and employees fairly and in accordance with legal obligations.”
Ms Branson said some employers are unaware that discrimination in employment on the ground of criminal record may lead to a complaint of discrimination under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act. It could also be unlawful under state and territory anti-discrimination laws.
She said the Commission had recently found that Railcorp had discriminated against an individual when it rejected his application for a position as a market analyst on the basis of low and mid-range drinking convictions from eight years earlier. This was despite the fact that the man met all the selection criteria for the job and was the selection panel’s preferred candidate.
“The Commission received 68 complaints in the last reporting year that alleged discrimination in employment on the ground of criminal record,” she said.
“What this shows is that while some employers are aware of their responsibilities under the law, they don’t always know how to put them into practice.
“These updated guidelines will assist employers and others to prevent discrimination against people with criminal records and help ensure employers meet their obligations under anti-discrimination law.”