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Reforms to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 were implemented on 28 October 2023 to reduce the periods of time after which certain offences are no longer legally required to be disclosed to an employer.

Under the previous position, some offenders were required to disclose their sentences for the rest of their lives. Now, custodial sentences of four years or less, and of more than four years for some less serious crimes, will become ‘spent’ after a period of rehabilitation of up to seven years after the sentence has been served, provided that no further offence is committed in that period. If an individual reoffends during the rehabilitation period, they will have to disclose both their original and subsequent offences to employers for the duration of whichever rehabilitation period is longer.

The previous rehabilitation periods were:

  • community order – one year beginning with the last day on which the order had effect.
  • custody of six months or less – two years.
  • custody of more than six months and up to 30 months – four years.
  • custody of more than 30 months and up to four years – seven years.
  • for offences with custodial sentences of more than four years, the conviction was never spent.

The new rehabilitation periods are as follows:

  • community order – the last day on which the order had effect.
  • custody of one year or less – one year.
  • custody of more than one year and up to four years – four years.
  • custody of more than four years – seven years.

However, it is important to note that convictions for serious sexual, violent, or terrorist offences will never be spent and are therefore always disclosable, and stricter disclosure rules will continue to apply to jobs that involve working with children and vulnerable people.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting one of our legal experts.


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