To Sell or Not To Sell

I have been away. I have been undercover. I have been at sales bootcamp in the Cheshire countryside where if there had been a second week to the ‘training’ it would surely have included wearing an orange jump suit with optional waterboarding. I found the week to be as rewarding as it was memorable.  Rewarding because it has made me more self-aware despite finding it to be a diet of motivation, bullying and brainwashing.

An article on my experience of the methods used in training will follow.  So too, pending legal advice will be a description of the tactics used by this self-proclaimed ‘ethical’ organisation which feeds at the heart of our education system providing ‘student support’ in the home.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Criminal Disclosure

We know that in a competitive employment market employees have to differentiate themselves in increasingly creative ways but did you know that at the same time as this is happening a small minority of employers are going to extraordinary lengths to acquaint themselves with prospective employees’ backgrounds? No this isn’t a post about monitoring tweets or facebook profiles but one about the worrying way in which a minority of UK employers seem able to sidestep the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and effectively discriminate against ex-offenders.  If this is news to you or you want to learn more about criminal record checks in the UK you should read on.

You need to understand that the Act was intended to help rehabilitate those who have broken the law by prescribing a rehabilitation period after which certain criminal convictions are ‘spent’ or forgotten. The length of the period varies according to the offence and the age of the offender but as a guideline it can generally be said that convictions resulting in:

  • Fines and community service become spent after five years;
  • Prison sentences of up to six months become spent after seven years;
  • Prison sentences between six months and two and a half years become spent after ten years;
  • Sentences over two and a half years are never spent.

It’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of a spent conviction. As you might expect there are exemptions from the Act and most people wouldn’t take exception to the exemptions which apply to certain types of job, usually those:

  • Where people are working unsupervised with high risk groups such as children and older people;
  • Involving senior roles in banking and the financial services industry;
  • Connected to law enforcement;
  • Involving national security;
  • In the prison service;
  • Within health, pharmacy and the law;
  • In private security work.

Employers offering a position which is exempted from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 will usually seek a STANDARD disclosure for around £26 or an ENHANCED disclosure for around £43 from the Disclosure and Barring Service through an accredited third party organisation. It is important here to understand that though the applicant for the check is the employee, the Standard or Enhanced Disclosure check can only be processed via the employer who must prove that it is necessary. An individual cannot request a standard or enhanced disclosure check on themslves.

Where a job doesn’t require a standard or enhanced DBS check the employer still has the right to ask if the individual has a criminal record but if the conviction is ‘SPENT’ under the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders Act 1974 the prospective employee doesn’t have to disclose this. If the employer wants proof that the individual has no criminal record they can ask the individual to request a BASIC disclosure.  Any individual can do this but to do so they must visit the Disclosure Scotland website for this service, confusing I know but you don’t need to live in Scotland to apply for a Basic disclosure in your own name. You might be asked to provide a Basic disclosure for a new job or if you are undertaking volunteer work and there is a cost of £25 to do so.  Of course a Basic disclosure will not reveal details of any spent convictions, you are protected under the Act as the position is not exempted from the it.  If you really want to get into the meat of this you need to visit the DBS website for more detailed information on Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Where things get interesting is when we consider that sometimes for non-employment purposes someone may be required to disclose information about themselves and any criminal record which they may have.  A POLICE CERTIFICATE is a criminal record check issued mainly for immigration purposes. It is needed if you require a work or residency visa for countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. In the case of the USA you will also need a Police Certificate for holiday purposes if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any offence, no matter how long ago it was. The cost of obtaining a Police Certificate is £45.  A SUBJECT ACCESS REQUEST is different as this is to provide an individual applicant with details of any information held about them on police computers and is intended for personal use only. The cost of obtaining a Subject Access Request is £10.  To apply for a Police Certificate or a Subject Access Request you should click on the link to your local police force, found on the following ACRO page

Both check the Police National Computer to see if the individual has a criminal record and check for ALL Convictions, Warnings, Reprimands and Cautions recorded on UK Police Systems. The ‘ACPO Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records on the Police National Computer’, which incorporates the Step Down Model, are applied when preparing the Police Certificate. Scottish and Military Convictions are NOT subject to the Step Down Model.

In essence this means that a Police Certificate or a Subject Access Request will in most cases show ALL arrests and convictions, even if the conviction is SPENT.  For this reason a Police Certificate or a Subject Access Request should NOT be used for employment purposes and an employer should not ask a prospective employee to obtain one, even if it is at the employer’s expense. If a full disclosure is necessary because the employee is working unsupervised with vulnerable groups the position would be subject to a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure DBS check which the employer could apply for.  If the onus is placed on the employee to confirm the information the position is not subject to a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure and a Basic Disclosure fulfils this requirement, providing the protection afforded to individuals under the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders Act 1974.

A prospective employer, who insists on being provided with a copy of a Subject Access Request, even if it is at their expense, is creating an unlawful bar to employment and potentialy a claim for unlawful dismissal.  At best they are demonstrating their naivety with the basics of employment law, at worst they are setting out to deceive the individual and deprive them of the basic protections afforded to them under the law.  Where a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure is deemed to be necessary strict guidelines are in place governing how that information may be used.  Making the content of a Subject Access Request freely available may lay a prospective employee open to bullying, intimidation or even blackmail in the workplace.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson


The Best Things in Life …

You can view New Year’s Eve as amateur night, when those who have failed to make an appearance over the previous twelve months don their finest drip dry shirt and paint the town red or as a time to reflect.  Those who know me know that I get about a bit.  I get to mix with some of the most fascinating people and some of the more insane; you know the type, the sort of people who moan about Starbucks’ position on tax – whilst they’re sitting in a Starbucks, drinking Starbucks coffee.  Well I’ve been reflecting.


I was sat in a park in Leeds with a former member of a Latvian all-girl rock group when she told me that the most important things in life aren’t things.  You are singing to the choir when you share such wisdom with me.  I know that it’s not rocket science but it is profound.  To you and I it may be obvious but for those who need a gentle nudge look no further than the latest research commissioned for the release of Life of Pi on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK. The message from the top 50 responses is crystal clear – concentrate on what you do have, rather than what you don’t.

  1. Stop worrying about money
  2. Stop worrying about what other people think
  3. Take two holidays a year
  4. Enjoy the little comforts
  5. Experience different cultures
  6. Work to live rather than live to work
  7. Pay off all debts
  8. Be true to yourself
  9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don’t have
  10. Use Money for fun rather than for a rainy day
  11. Make time for family and friends
  12. Try all types of food
  13. Find true love
  14. Travel to a least 25 foreign countries
  15. Go outside more
  16. Learn a new language
  17. Be well thought of by family and friends
  18. Help your family when they’re in need
  19. Lose 6 kg in weight
  20. Treat each day like it’s your last
  21. Visit all Britain’s historical landmarks
  22. Book an impulsive last-minute holiday
  23. Volunteer for a charity
  24. Take up a challenge
  25. Go on Safari
  26. Blow money shopping
  27. Learn a new instrument
  28. Been married for longer than 20 years
  29. Save money for your grandchildren to enjoy
  30. Start a family
  31. Earn more than your age
  32. Have a pet
  33. Drive a really fast car
  34. Travel alone
  35. Keep children on the straight and narrow
  36. Meet strangers
  37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place
  38. Have a one night stand
  39. Pass your driving test
  40. Get a degree
  41. Rescue someone so you’re a hero for a while
  42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong
  43. Get a promotion
  44. Reach your career peak by 40
  45. Have an all night drinking session
  46. Perform something on stage in front of others
  47. Snog a stranger
  48. Plan a surprise party
  49. Embark on adrenaline packed activities such as bungee jumping
  50. Keep young by spending time with children

The Metro reports that the average person is able to tick off just eight of the fifty and that fewer than a quarter of us believe that we are living life to the full.  So snogging a stranger, having a one night stand and dating someone exciting but completely wrong may not be your thing but I for one was able to combine all three.

There is perhaps nothing new in the research; some of us realized a while ago that we are experience rather than stuff junkies but for those who wish to delve further and explore the ideas raised in the film the Damaris Trust offers an excellent Resource

Aristotle pointed out that it is logically impossible for two contradictory beliefs both to be true at the same time but if we suspend logic momentarily we offer ourselves tremendous opportunities for self-discovery.  We are no longer inhibited by the labels which we and others apply to ourselves.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson