Can an Employer Ask for a Criminal Record Check?

Employment Law | May 23, 2023

As an employer, you may wonder if asking potential candidates for a criminal record check is legal. The answer is yes—but only in some cases. Employers can request a criminal record check as part of the hiring process, but they must have a legitimate reason. As experts in employment law, it is essential for the team at Linley Welwood to help employers understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to criminal record checks. That is why we have compiled some important information about whether or not an employer can ask for a criminal record check.

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Legal Implications and Limitations

Employers should know the legal implications and limitations when requesting criminal record checks.

1. Legitimate Reason

Employers must have a legitimate reason for requesting a criminal record check. This can include positions working with vulnerable populations, such as children, or jobs requiring sensitive information access; however, asking for a criminal record check should not be used as an excuse for discriminatory hiring practices based on past convictions.

2. Human Rights and Privacy Laws

Requesting a criminal record check must be done in compliance with human rights and privacy laws. These laws vary by province and may restrict the types of convictions considered in the hiring process.

Why Do Employers Ask for Criminal Record Checks?

There are several reasons why employers ask for this type of background check, including:

1. Ensure Workplace Safety

Employers are legally obligated to provide their employees with a safe workplace. They could face legal consequences if they hire someone with a criminal history who later commits an offence on the job. By conducting criminal record checks before hiring someone, employers can reduce the risk of hiring someone who may threaten others in the workplace. This is particularly important in industries, such as healthcare or education, where employees work closely with vulnerable populations.

2. Certain Job Requirements

Some jobs require an individual to have a clean criminal record due to legal or regulatory requirements. For example, those working in law enforcement or security positions must pass strict background checks before employment. Similarly, certain government agencies may require individuals applying for specific jobs to undergo a thorough screening process, including a criminal record check.

3. To Protect Their Reputation and Business Interests

Employers may ask for criminal records to protect their reputation and business interests. If an employee is found to have committed a crime while working for the company, it can damage its reputation, losing customer and partner trust. Furthermore, hiring someone with an adverse history can damage the company’s reputation and lead to losing faith in the eyes of customers and stakeholders.

To learn more about your rights as an employee regarding criminal records, it is highly recommended that you consult with an employment lawyer. At Linley Welwood, our team of skilled lawyers has years of experience dealing with employment law cases. If you wish to speak or schedule a meeting with one of our employment lawyers, we can be reached at 604-850-6640 or by submitting an online form on our website.

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