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New Legislation Significantly Reduces ‘Spent’ Time on Criminal Convictions, but How Does It Affect You?

Posted on 18th December 2023 in Employment

Posted by

Charlotte Yendell

Trainee Solicitor
New Legislation Significantly Reduces ‘Spent’ Time on Criminal Convictions, but How Does It Affect You?


The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 allows eligible convictions to become spent after a specified period, known as the ‘rehabilitation period’. The rehabilitation period depends on factors such as the age of the individual and the sentence received. The Act aims to support rehabilitation, enabling individuals to return to employment after convictions are spent.

The Change

On 28 October 2023, new legislation came into effect to reduce the period of time necessary for certain criminal convictions to become spent and so no longer legally disclosable to potential employers. A government press release suggested that the law change will help over 120,000 former offenders return to the job market more easily, in a hope they will ‘rebuild their lives’. If an individual reoffends during their rehabilitation period, they will have to disclose both their original and subsequent offences to employers for the duration of whichever rehabilitation period is longer.

Stricter disclosure rules continue to apply to jobs that justify a standard or enhanced DBS, for example a job that involves working with a vulnerable adult or child.

What Now?

The new legislation has immediate effect, employers must ensure policies and procedures are up to date. You may wish to consider how the changes affect your recruitment and post recruitment processes.

The New Time Period



Under 18s

(Adult) Community Order/Youth Rehabilitation Order

The last day on which the order has effect

The last day on which the order has effect

Custody of 1 year or less

1 year

6 months

Custody of more than 1 year and up to 4 years

4 years

2 years

Custody of more than 4 years*

7 years

3.5 years


How can Tozers help?

We understand that the changes may have implications for your recruitment and post recruitment processes, and we can assist you in navigating these changes smoothly.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please do get in touch with our employment team who will provide you with practical and tailored advice.

Contact our legal experts

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