EMPLOYERS, insurers and job applicants have been warned to get ready for changes to the rules on disclosing crimes.

From November 30, the required disclosure times for past convictions will fall dramatically.

For those convicted adults, a six month jail sentence will only need to be disclosed for two-and-a-half years rather than the current seven.

While a fine will be considered ‘spent’ after one year instead of five.

For those aged under 18 when convicted, the disclosure period for a six month prison sentence will be cut from three-and-half years to 18 months, and a fine will be six months not two-and-a-half years.

However the reforms, approved by MSPs in the Management of Offenders Act last year, will not affect disclosure periods for more serious crimes involving sentences of more than four years.

Disclosure rules for sensitive occupations such as teaching or medicine are also unaffected.

More than a third of adult men in Scotland have been estimated to have a criminal record.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Parliament agreed that current disclosure periods are too long. Employment and the skills, opportunities and hope that it brings, can support routes out of offending, thereby contributing to safer communities.

“These important reforms balance the requirement for safeguards to understand a person’s recent offending behaviour with the need to allow people to move on with their lives – to seek gainful employment, support their families and contribute positively to their communities.

“Employers, insurers and others who routinely require information on criminal convictions should be aware of the changes so their processes continue to comply with the law.

“Even where potential employees need to disclose an unspent conviction, I hope employers can, where appropriate, see that as just one aspect of the person, alongside their skills and experience.”

Keith Rosser, of the recruitment company Reed, who chairs the employer-led Release Scotland network, said the new rules were “incredibly important for business” and would widen the talent pool.

He said: “The Act removes many convictions that have no bearing on a person’s suitability for a job from the recruitment process.

“By widening the pool of talent for employers and simplifying their recruitment decision this will lead to quicker responses for all and can only improve business resilience and sustainability.”

Dughall Laing, of Recruit With Conviction, which helps employers hire people with criminal records, added: “This cannot come at a better time due to the economic and consequential impacts on employment of Covid-19.

“The potential for workers to find their historic, irrelevant or minor convictions are protected in recruitment can only enhance the chances for thousands of individuals to access new, fairer and more secure employment opportunities across Scotland.”