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Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics Pre-Employment Screening (General) Can an employer ask for criminal record information from a job applicant?

Can an employer ask for criminal record information from a job applicant?

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Recruitment is always a big step and process for every organisation in many ways. The organisation is focused on the applicants/candidates and must equally balance their requirements with those mandated by the various Australian laws.

Police checks should inform further about certain traits necessary to the functions candidates perform and the community's safety. One of the foremost and recommended checks is the Australian Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

What is the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check concerning recruitment?

Some cases where an employer feels certain criminal or legal records will contradict the task at hand. They will declare that every applicant presents a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check for such cases.

The Criminal records check is a compilation of all a person's criminal history or conviction given by an Australian legal court. Also, in most cases, the inherent nature of the job mandates the candidate to provide a Criminal Check as a default means of assessment.

Why the Australian Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

The recruiting organisation may also request other checks as necessary for the task. However, when requesting for an additional check as a Criminal record, they must be sure that the reports from that check correlate with the task at hand.

The Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check is mainly recommended because it contains an essential candidate assessment. However, some roles may not be hindered by records on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

If an employer asks for criminal record information from the job applicant (e.g. a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check), it must be obtained with the informed consent of the applicant.

How should an Employer assess a criminal record?

Before requesting a Criminal record, the organisation must confirm with laws about private documents' use, assessment, and handling. When assessing a Criminal record, the organisation must;

  • Consider the individual information in the certificate

Usually, most people wrongly dismiss a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check as either "pass/fail". And yet it is not. Criminal records carry individual formation about a particular conviction or finding of guilt. And it can be wrong to generally dismiss a candidate for a record that does not correlate with their job role.

  • When the conviction was given

It is considered a generous gesture that organisations should not hold a person for older convictions.

  • The long term impact of the Records on the role

Organisations are also permitted to evaluate a Criminal record based on its future impact on the career. For example, a finance-related criminal record can prevent anyone from registering for major financial bodies or licences.

Such sanctions can hinder any long-term career paths or procedures the candidate has in connection with your organisation.

  • The environment where they carry out the task

A person with a history of Aggravated assault offences and other violence-related acts can be a poor choice when employing for;

  • ✔ Riders,
  • ✔ Customer care service
  • ✔ CPV drivers,
  • ✔ And other people related roles,

If a person's environment will be affected by their records, it is expedient that your organisation request a Criminal Check.

  • Explain their criteria for assessment beforehand

Any metric or milestone your organisation will be assessing their candidates should be discussed beforehand. It is unfair for an employer to disqualify a candidate based on the fact that they hardly meet up with the criteria.

What must an employer consider when requesting a Criminal Record?

While criminal records can be an essential document to assess a person before recruiting them, several laws punish irregularities. If the prosecutor discovers that a person has offended laws concerning a person's data, it will charge the organisation before the necessary court.

When dealing with Criminal records, your organisation must consider;

  • Privacy laws

Applicants' data should not be passed around or transmitted indiscriminately. A breach of an applicant's private data can result in severe punishments. The Privacy laws are contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

  • Industrial Laws

Various industrial laws are designed to promote and protect employees' welfare in various organisations. The State also set up agencies like;

Before the law, these agencies listed employee complaints and drag erring organisations/corporations.

  • State and Territory Anti-discrimination laws

The assessment and application of criminal records should not be conducted to suggest some bias.

Determining the inherent requirements of a role

It is not difficult to determine the inherent requirements an individual needs to perform a role when assessing criminal records. And it will be cruel for an organisation to evaluate a candidate based on the general records of the criminal check rather than the inherent qualities.

  • Trust and Character

Certain businesses require a customer with resounding evidence of Trust and Character. For such cases, a recommendation from previous employers or high-standing citizens may be required. For example, those who work in an organisation that deals with;

  • ✔ Financial business,
  • ✔ Child care/education,
  • ✔ Managing sensitive data,

And other related areas must have reputable profiles or records on the Australian legal system.

  • Working based on Industry’s standard

An employer may also follow the industry standard of evaluating candidates using a related background check—for example, a candidate's traffic record.

Wrapping Up

It is legal and logical for organisations to request background checks from candidates they employ regarding their vacant roles. However, they must know the laws backing such a process.

How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?


If you are an individual, you can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via Australian National Character Check’s application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

Business and Enterprise Customers

Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ police check results on their business portal.

Organisations will undergo a process of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of police checks.

ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their background check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

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You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.

The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

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About ANCC

ANCC® enables individuals and approved legal entities to apply for a nationally coordinated criminal history check, which is commonly referred to as a national police check. The nationally coordinated criminal history check is valid all over Australia and can be used when applying for Employment, Probity, Licencing, or Commonwealth check purposes. Get discount police checks online. We beat prices!


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