How do you terminate an employee with a criminal record?


Finding out that an employee at your organisation has a criminal record which impacts their suitability for the role they’ve been hired for, can put you in an uncomfortable position. Your first reaction may be to remove them from that position with immediate effect, especially if you’re worried about any risks they present to your company.

Before you decide to terminate them however, take a moment to consider any alternative solutions. Perhaps you could remove them from their current role without terminating their employment altogether?

Sometimes, a criminal record can affect an employee’s ability to perform certain tasks, and not others. Whilst a criminal record may deem your employee unfit for a particular position, this does not extend to all roles within the organisation. Depending on the level of risk relating to a particular position, an employee can be put forward for a new role if the criminal record doesn’t impact their ability to carry out their responsibilities. This could help to de-escalate a potentially hostile situation with the employee.

Transferring an employee to another position within the organisation is not always feasible, especially if you’re a smaller company. In such instances, it is not expected that you continue employing this employee at your own risk. If you have already weighed up your options and decided to terminate their employment, you may want to consider the following:

Your legal obligations.

Terminating someone is never easy. It can amount to an unlawful dismissal if done for reasons prohibited by the law. Do some research as to when a termination can be considered unfair or discriminatory.

By being abreast of all your legal obligations, and seeking advice prior to terminating your employee, you minimise the risks of any potential lawsuits or investigations.

Best way to communicate.

You can further mitigate the risks of a disgruntled employee when you take the steps to ensure that they understand why you have made the decision to terminate them. Take the time to have an open an honest conversation to explain what your concerns are, and why their criminal record now makes them unfit for the position they were hired for.

Explain why a criminal history makes an employee unfit for a role


Never underestimate the importance of a paper trail. The decision to terminate an employee is a big one – don’t forget to be thorough with your documentation. Record your decision in writing. Follow-up any verbal communications that you’ve had with your employee, with a letter or email. Record the details of why you have reached the decision that you have. In this way, if you need to defend your position in the future, your organisation has a thorough and transparent paper trail to support your decision.

Best Practice Guide

Does someone in your organisation have a criminal record? Download our Criminal History Screening Best Practice Guide and mitigate any employment related risks for your organisation.