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Guide Working at East Devon District Council

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4. Policies related to recruitment

Recruitment of ex–offenders

Introduction

The Code of Practice published under section 122 of the Policy Act 1997 advises that it is a requirement that all registered bodies must treat DBS applicants who have a criminal record fairly and not discriminate because of a conviction or other information revealed.

The code also obliges registered bodies to have a written policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders, a copy of which can be given to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) applicants at the outset of a recruitment process.

Policy Statement

As an organisation assessing applicants’ suitability for positions which are included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order using criminal record checks processed through the DBS, East Devon District Council (EDDC) complies fully with the Code of Practice and undertakes to treat all applicants for positions fairly.

EDDC undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a criminal record check on the basis of a conviction or other information revealed.

EDDC can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that EDDC are legally entitled to know about. Where a DBS certificate at either standard or enhanced level can legally be requested (where the position is one that is included in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended) and where appropriate Police Act Regulations (as amended) ) EDDC can only ask an individual about convictions and cautions that are not protected.

EDDC is committed to the fair treatment of its staff, potential staff or users of its service, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibilities for dependants, age, physical or mental disability or offending background.

This written policy on the recruitment of ex-offenders is made available to all DBS applicants through the vacancy information pack at the outset of the recruitment process.

EDDC actively promotes equality of opportunity for all with the right mix of talent, skills and potential and welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, including those with criminal records and selects all candidates for interview based on their skills, qualifications and experience.

A position is only identified as eligible for a criminal record check from the DBS after a thorough risk assessment has indicated that one is both proportionate and relevant to the position concerned. For those positions where a criminal record check is identified as necessary, job descriptions and vacancy information packs will contain a statement to this effect.

EDDC ensures that those officers involved in advising recruiting managers on the relevance and circumstances of offences have been suitably trained in the relevant legislation relating to the employment of ex-offenders – for example, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

EDDC ensures that any matter revealed on a DBS certificate is discussed with the individual seeking the position in an open and measured way before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment. Failure to reveal information that is directly relevant to the position sought could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment.

EDDC, through its umbrella body, makes every subject of a criminal record check submitted to DBS aware of the existence of the Code of Practice available at gov.uk/government/ publications/dbs-code-of-practice.

Politically restricted post (PoRP)

If it has been indicated in the person specification that this post is a politically restricted post (PoRP) under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, here is some further information. Posts which are politically restricted are defined as follows:

  • All specified officers, such as the Head of the Paid Service, the Monitoring Officer, (both posts are required under the Act), Statutory and non-statutory Chief Officers and their deputies, officers with delegated powers, assistants to political groups, and Chief Finance Officer. All these officers are politically restricted without rights of exemption or appeal;
  • All posts which meet the duties related criteria for determining a ‘sensitive post’, unless there is a successful appeal. HR maintains a list of posts that are restricted or proposed to be restricted. Sensitive posts are defined as those which meet one or both of these criteria:

a) Give advice on a regular basis to the authority, to a committee or sub-committee of the authority or to any joint committee on which the authority is represented; or where the authority are represented; or where the authority are operating executive arrangements, to the executive of the authority; to any committee of that executive; or to any member of that executive who is also a member of the authority.

b) Speak on behalf of the  authority on a regular basis to journalists and broadcasters.

Only employees who are ‘politically free’ can stand for election or engage in other restricted political activity. The Secretary of State issues regulations prescribing the type of political activities in which politically restricted post holders will be restricted from engaging.

The terms and conditions of employment of those in politically restricted posts are deemed to prohibit activities including:

  • public speaking or writing with the apparent intention of attracting public support for a political party
  • announcing, causing, authorising or permitting anyone to announce their candidature in elections (except for parish council elections)
  • acting as an election agent or sub-agent (except for parish council elections)
  • holding certain offices within a political party where the duties are likely to involve participation in the general management of the party or the branch, or in representing the party or branch to external people or bodies
  • canvassing on behalf of a political party or for a candidate in an election (except for parish council elections)

Under the regulations if an employee in a politically restricted post writes to this council indicating they wish to resign because they intend to announce, or cause or authorise or permit anyone else to announce that they are or intend to be a candidate in Parliament in a forthcoming election then the employment contract with the council terminates immediately, without the need for either side to give notice.

The council’s Standards Committee has the responsibility to determine whether individuals should be exempted from political restriction on the grounds that the duties of the post do not fall within the ‘sensitive’ definition.

To appeal against being designated a PoRP holder an individual post holder will need to write a letter, to the Standards Committee, care of the council’s Monitoring Officer, formally seeking exemption including a full job description of the post. If the standards committee is satisfied the duties of the post do not meet the criteria it must give a direction to the authority indicating that it is not a politically restricted post, and that it must be removed from the list, or not placed upon it. The direction should also indicate how long the direction is to last. The standards committee may also direct that posts are included in the list, whether or not an application.