Second chances: a report on employing offenders in Canterbury (2019)
Those who have offending histories face significant barriers to employment. • Prison was found to have an extremely limiting effect on employability, with 16.8% (n=35) of respondents saying that they would not hire a former prisoner, 29.2% (n=61) reporting that they would be much less likely to hire, and only 17.2% (n=36) reporting that they would treat them the same as other applicants. • Non-custodial sentences were found to have a similar, but lesser effect. Those who had been given only a sentence such as community service were much more likely to be treated equally, with 45.5% reporting that they would be treated the same as a normal applicant. • Different types of offending were found to have significantly different impacts on employability. Driving and minor drug offenses had only a limited effect on employability, while violence and dishonesty considerably inhibited employment. Sexual offending and violence resulting in a death were found to make employment almost impossible, with only a small minority saying that they would consider hiring an offender who had committed those crimes. • Only 65.6% (n=139) of employers said that they would consider hiring an offender, indicating that the range of jobs available for offenders is significantly restricted. • Half of businesses check criminal records during the hiring process, and those who check criminal records were less likely to consider employing an offender, with 58.7% (n=64) of employers who check criminal records reporting that they would consider hiring an offender in the future, compared with 71.4% (n=74) of those who do not check criminal records. These barriers to employment were not proportionate to job performance. • Those with offending histories were generally found to be satisfactory employees, with employers who had hired an offender rating offenders’ job performance as being only slightly less than an average non-offending employee. • Employers were found to be most concerned about managing risk to business, staff, and customers when making hiring decisions, and were concerned that the time and resources required to train a new employee might be wasted when hiring someone with an offending history. The support options that were the most valuable were those that helped employers to be confident that hiring someone with an offending history was a worthwhile investment. • The support options that employers were most interested in were those which would help them to be sure that an offender was ready for work, had work skills, and had support in place to ensure that they would not return to offending. • Significantly, these were preferred over options which offered simple financial assistance (such as wage subsidy, a free work period, and cost reimbursement), indicating that the cost of wages is not always a primary concern when making hiring decisions.
CitationGilbert J, Elley B, Best T (2019). Second chances: a report on employing offenders in Canterbury. Pathway Charitable Trust.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research44 - Human society::4402 - Criminology::440202 - Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
14 - Economics::1402 - Applied Economics::140211 - Labour Economics
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