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How criminal records affect employment

Region: Ontario Answer # 2115

Having a criminal record, even in cases where the charges were withdrawn or you were acquitted, can have serious negative effects when you look for employment. A criminal record can also be an obstacle when seeking a job promotion, getting contracts if you are self-employed, your ability to be bonded, and may prevent you from obtaining career. Whether you have been convicted of a criminal offence, or your charge resulted in an acquittal or dismissal, your job or opportunities for further employment can be affected. To get help, call a lawyer now.

Getting employment or becoming licensed

Almost all employers and licensing boards are now conducting mandatory police records searches before hiring individuals or allowing applicants into training programs. By signing an application form or an employment agreement, you may be giving permission for a police records search to be conducted. For more information, refer to Pre-employment screening (background checks).

In fact, there are numerous career categories where the law requires police clearance reports, such as

  • bank employees,
  • government jobs,
  • insurance and real estate brokers,
  • limousine and taxi cab drivers,
  • police officers,
  • private investigators,
  • restaurant owners (where alcohol is served), and
  • volunteers.

Almost all types of employment are out of reach if a person has a criminal record.

Career advancement

Even a person employed by the same employer for several years is not protected against future criminal record search requests. In many cases, such as government offices and school boards, employers are required to conduct police records searches on existing as well as prospective employees. In addition, many companies that never before required criminal record searches are now doing so. Those individuals with criminal records may be prevented from advancing their career with the employer and may even lose their jobs if the record is discovered.


People who are self-employed are not immune to criminal record searches. Many companies and government offices which sub-contract work to individuals or to businesses are now requiring criminal record searches to be conducted on the independent contractor or the owners of the business. This is especially true in situations where the independent contractor will have access to confidential information or will be working with vulnerable people, such as children. Computer programmers, bookkeepers and nannies are just three examples of careers where criminal record searches are commonly required.

Being bonded

For people in jobs where bonding is required, it is often too expensive for employers to bond employees who have criminal records. Being bonded means that the employer is paying for insurance against the risk of employees committing crimes such as theft or fraud. If you have a criminal record, the insurance company will charge your employer a premium and your employer may not be able, or willing to pay the added cost. As a result, you might not be hired.

If you wish to apply for a job or become licensed in a particular industry, it is best to have your criminal record removed before you submit your application. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.

Get help

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

Whether you have been convicted of a criminal offence, or your charge resulted in an acquittal or dismissal, your job or opportunities for further employment can be affected if you have a criminal record. To get help, call a lawyer now.

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