Calls to reward employers hiring ex-offenders

The Work and Pensions Committee is calling for rewards to be given employers who actively hire ex-offenders.

The Committee praises those employers, like Timpson and Virgin Trains, who do employ ex-offenders, but they stress that more needs to be done to encourage employers to change their recruitment practices and they should be given the support to do so.

A 2016 YouGov survey commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) found that 50% of employers would not consider hiring an ex-offender to work for them. 45% of those surveyed thought they may be unreliable, 40% had concerns about the impact it could have on the business’ public image, 36% were worried they would upset colleagues and 32% were apprehensive about their skills and capability.

As part of efforts to deal with the high number of re-offenders, the Committee says that the government should incentivize employers by launching a pilot scheme which decreases National Insurance contributions for all those employers who actively employ ex-offenders. They also suggest that it could be a factor in procurement and commissioning decisions.

They also think that the DWP should prepare guidance to contest some of the misconceptions and myths that employers have about hiring ex-offenders.

They also recommend that all prisons must show that they have strong links with employers, in particular local businesses and that the prisons should offer workshop courses, apprenticeships or other similar employment opportunities with employers.

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said “The Government has announced it will publish a new strategy in early 2017 for getting more ex-offenders into employment and this marks welcome progress.” He continued “Prisons, the Government and employers all have a responsibility, and an interest, to help them take it.”

What are your thoughts? Do you hire ex-offenders? Do you think there are misconceptions about their reliability and the impact it could have on business? Will tax breaks and other incentives work to persuade employers to change their attitudes and hire ex-offenders?

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James Tamm

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