Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 237–252 | Cite as

The Use of Criminal Record in Employment Decisions: The Rights of Ex-offenders, Employers and the Public

  • Helen Lam
  • Mark Harcourt


The evidence suggests that employers discriminate against ex-offenders in the labour market. The problem is potentially serious as it involves a substantial proportion of the population, especially the male population. Since research has shown that most people with prior convictions stop offending by their late 20s or early 30s, the validity of selection based on criminal record remains questionable. This paper examines the need for legal protection of ex-offenders by limiting employers' access to, and use of, information on criminal background. The rights and interests of the various parties involved, employers, ex-offenders, and the general public, are discussed. Approaches to the legal protection of ex-offenders in Australia are reviewed and legislative changes proposed.

discrimination employees employers ex-offenders rights 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Lam
    • 1
  • Mark Harcourt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human Resource Management, Centre for Innovative ManagementAthabasca UniversitySt. AlbertCanada
  2. 2.Department of Strategic Management and Leadership, Waikato Management SchoolWaikato UniversityHamiltonNew Zealand

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