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What has changed?

As and from 1 October 2019, employers will now be able to reject jobseekers if they have a criminal record “relevant to the job” which they have applied for.

Previously, employers were required to show that the jobseeker’s criminal record meant that they could not perform the inherent requirements of the position.

Catalyst for change

The catalyst for change was prompted by a case in 2018 where:

  • Suncorp argued that a jobseeker’s criminal record for child pornography offences tainted his integrity and as such he could not be trusted to work unsupervised from home with sensitive client data


  • the Australian Human Rights Commission, however, held that his child pornography convictions were not offences of dishonesty and that Suncorp had unlawfully discriminated against the jobseeker by withdrawing a job offer upon learning of his child pornography offences

In a media release on 3 October 2019 the Attorney-General for Australia and the Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon Christian Porter MP, commented that:

“This case demonstrated that our laws in this area were not working and were at complete odds with common sense which is why this change has been made.”

“The amendment that we’ve introduced will provide the certainty and clarity that employers need, while also ensuring that applicants remain protected when their conviction clearly has no relevance to the job they are applying for.”

Where to from here?

An employer still needs to justify their decision for rejection if challenged by the job applicant and therefore care should be taken to ensure the applicant’s criminal offences are in fact relevant to the job being applied for.

Employers also need to be aware that the former test regarding criminal records and job applicants still applies to incidents which occurred prior to 1 October 2019.

More Information

Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team on 9635 7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers if you require any assistance or advice.

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided to clients and readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law.