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Clean Slate Law: Concept Fine, But Bill Flawed

The Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says it backs the concept of a clean slate for minor offenders who stay out of trouble for seven years, but the present Bill leaves employers at risk. EMA actively supports the "Fresh Start" programme promoting employment opportunities for persons with criminal convictions.

"Employers will be left vulnerable if an employee convicted of a previous crime involving dishonesty gives in to temptation some years on," said Peter Tritt, EMA's Employment Relations Manager.

"Employers would be prohibited from inquiring about spent convictions and it would be unlawful to discriminate on that ground.

"The Bill's glaring inconsistencies illustrate its weaknesses.

"The theory behind the Bill is that people change, but it then goes on to exclude sexual offences and arson though these offenders too could presumably be reformed after seven years.

"Our question is, if schools and the fire service are allowed to know about crimes whenever they occurred, why are other employers not entitled to know about an employee who stole from an employer, whenever that may have occurred?

"Where an offence is relevant to the performance of a job, an employer should be entitled to ask and discriminate on that ground. There will always be issues concerning the relevance of a particular instance.

"EMA will be seeking to tighten the Bill through the Select Committee process in Parliament."

Further comments: Peter Tritt tel 09 367 0921

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