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Can an employer ask me if I have a police record?

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Can an employer ask me if I have a police record?
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Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)

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Can an employer ask me if I have a police record?
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Reviewed: 
November 1, 2018
Answer

It depends on why they're asking and what kind of information they want.

Asking about a criminal record

An employer can ask you if you've been convicted of a crime that you have not been given a record suspension for. A record suspension used to be called a pardon. 

An employer can decide not to hire you because you have a criminal record.

Convictions that usually can't be used against you

In most cases, if you get a record suspension for a crime that you've been convicted of:

  • an employer can't ask about that crime
  • you can honestly say that you don't have a criminal record

And breaking a provincial law is not a crime. In most cases, an employer can't ask if you've been convicted of breaking a provincial law. For example, speeding and careless driving are in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. They're called provincial offences.

If you're convicted of a provincial offence, you don't have a criminal record.

Exceptions

For some jobs an employer can refuse to hire you because of:

  • a provincial offence
  • a crime that you got a record suspension for

The law says that an employer can do this if it's:

  • reasonable
  • necessary
  • makes sense because of what the key duties of the job are

For example, an employer might think that hiring you could put other people at risk. So you might not get a job as a driver if you've been convicted of driving offences.

Asking about a youth record

Most employers, except some government agencies, are not allowed to see a youth record. They should not ask about it.

And there are special rules about who can see youth records. So, it's against the law for you to share information about your open youth record.

Asking for a police record check

An employer may ask you to get a "police record check". You must consent in writing for the check to be done.

There are 3 kinds of police record checks:

  • a criminal record check
  • a criminal record and judicial matters check
  • a vulnerable sector check

For each record check, the law says what can be included. The rules about record checks apply to most employers and most jobs.

Information that can't be included

When the rules apply, there's some information about contact you had with the police that can't be included in any record check.

For example, a record check can't include information about you:

  • being stopped and questioned by police
  • being arrested but not charged with a crime
  • having contact with the police because of a mental health crisis
  • contacting the police to report a crime

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