Important. Please read the following paragraph before continuing.

Leah Ley-Wilson Recruitment provides this information purely as a very basic guide and will endeavour to keep this information up to date. However, we are not employment law specialists and we will not accept responsibility for the use of said information by any third party.

Please note that, in our opinion, the best information on this topic is provided on the web by the REC and we recommend that you verify your requirements either via the REC themselves or via the DTI, both of whom you can find at and.

The other port of call is the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, which you can find at


It is quite normal for employers to ask candidates for details of any previous convictions. However, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 allows anyone with a previous conviction of certain offences to keep that information confidential after the time, known as the 'rehabilitation period', has passed. (See the REC website for full details of these rehabilitation periods). These type of convictions are known as 'spent' convictions.

However, a conviction cannot be 'spent' if it incurred:
  • a sentence of more than two and a half years;
  • a life sentence;
  • preventative detention, or its equivalent for young offenders.

You should note that the Act does not apply to certain classes of occupations and offices. Some spent convictions may be grounds for refusing someone employment or dismissing him or her if the job is within certain named Excepted classes of employment and professions (see appendix one under Criminal Record Checks on the REC website for details). These include employment involving contact with children, young persons and the vulnerable, judicial work, prison work etc.

All of this therefore means that, unless you as employer are included in the list of Excepted Businesses, then you may only ask a candidate if they have any 'unspent' convictions. It would be unlawful to discriminate against a candidate because of a 'spent' conviction unless your business is listed as Excepted (see appendix one on REC website).

Disclosure checks

Disclosure Scotland can provide police checks on anyone, however, there are rules which are different for Employment businesses or Employment agencies and we would recommend that you look at the REC website for full details.

Employment Agencies, which introduce candidates for employment with the client direct are only permitted to obtain a Disclosure if the employer who will be employing the candidate is permitted to do so and only then once the offer of employment has been made.