A Canadian pardon, now called Record Suspension, will help you with getting a job in several ways. Once you have a Record Suspension, you’re cleared to apply for almost any career.
The most significant impact of a Record Suspension on your job search is the ability to pass background checks. Background checks are on the rise and the practice shows no signs of slowing down in Canada. With the digital age upon us, it’s easier to do background checks. There are more companies targeting employers and advising them to do a record check. Companies are being told that they are open to lawsuits and bankruptcy if they hire a person with a criminal record.
Many of these claims are being exaggerated to sell Canadian companies on the benefits of background checks. Nevertheless, they are effective. Browse through any of the job advertisements in your industry and you will see multiple bullet points stating that a criminal record check is a requirement of the position.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association conducted a study of the prevalence of criminal record checks. On average they reported that police forces in Canada were seeing an increase in the volume of requests of seven per cent per year. The biggest increases took place in Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, London and the Peel and York regions.
Sometimes the background check requirement is not announced in the job listing. You might find out about it when you fill out the application online or in person or when you attend the interview.
In the past, the job interview process was relationship based. You mailed a cover letter and resume or filled out an application form out in person at the place of business. If the employer wanted to do a record check, they would let you know and you would have an opportunity to talk to them about your record in the interview. This gave the employer an opportunity to decide for themselves if you seem trustworthy.
Today, things are more impersonal. When you fill out an online application, you may have to agree to the record check without having the opportunity to even speak to the employer about your record. They can then simply run all of their shortlisted candidates through the system as long as they have your permission.
Not having a Record Suspension can jeopardize your position even after you are hired. Sometimes employers will ask existing employees to take a background check. This can happen if ownership changes, a new insurance policy is introduced, or the company takes on a sensitive contract.
Some provinces have rules that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a record that is not related to the position. For example, they could not deny a job to a person with a DUI unless it involves driving or operating heavy machinery. Most provinces and employers who fall under federal jurisdiction, do not allow discrimination on the basis of a record that has been pardoned or suspended.
You may be able to convince an employer to hire you under the grounds that your record is not related to the position. However, it will be much easier to be covered by the law once your record is suspended.
Bondable basically means insurable. While technically, everyone can be insured, your criminal record might be a liability in the eyes of the insurance company. As a result, they may charge a rate that is prohibitively expensive for your employer. This could prevent you from being hired or cause you to lose your job.
Industries where job seekers are commonly asked if they are bondable include:
- Trucking and transportation
- Financial services
- Home repair
Getting a licence
You may need to get a special licence to operate in your industry. If your profession is regulated, you may be expected to get a Record Suspension in order to practice.
If you are lucky enough to be offered a job that involves travel abroad, a Record Suspension can help. A Record Suspension will allow you to pass background checks for the purpose of getting a visa. For example, you might want to teach English in Asia, work for an airline or cruise ship or bring your professional expertise to other markets.
If you plan to work in transportation, a Record Suspension can help you pass security clearances needed to work at ports, airports and railway stations.
Note that a Record Suspension will not allow you to enter the United States. In order to enter the USA, you may need a US Entry Waiver. If you do not require a US Entry Waiver, a Canadian pardon might allow you to qualify for preclearance certifications that are often required for cross-border jobs like trucking. These include:
Many people with criminal records have employment gaps or difficulties in applying for jobs due to a lack of experience. Talk to any employment counsellor and they will tell you that volunteer work is a good way to gain skills, network and improve a resume.
Unfortunately, many volunteer agencies will conduct criminal record checks. Getting a Record Suspension can help you qualify for volunteer positions and improve your resume.
You may find that its hard to pay the bills on many jobs that don’t require a college or university education. In this case, you might want to go back to school. In this case, you may still run into the problem of record checks. This is especially true of programs that involve a practicum. Some programs that require record checks include:
- Social work
- Law and security
How a pardon helps with getting a job
The biggest advantage of a Record Suspension is that it allows you to qualify for more jobs and get hired faster.
The one exception is the vulnerable sector check, which will only apply in some cases. When applying to work with children or vulnerable adults, some sealed records can be released. Most people with pardons or Record Suspensions can apply to work with the vulnerable sector because this policy only applies to those with violent and sexual offences.