Youth in conflict with the law

Youth in conflict with the law: background verification checks


Looking for a job is a job itself! This is a common feeling among active job seekers in South Africa. With the high unemployment rate, most young people are looking to use their knowledge and skills in business to earn an income and live a productive life. During childhood, one can “get up to no good” and could end up with a criminal record for whatever reason. This record can haunt a young person and hamper education or oven job prospects. By why do companies do criminal, credit, and background checks? And what can a young in conflict with the law do?


You are a you person, passed matric and studied further. But while in tertiary you were arrested for possession of a drug, or disturbing the peace, protest etc and this lands you with a criminal record. You are a student who opened a clothing store account or cell phone contract without your parents knowing, now you have been blacklisted and have a bad credit record. An employment opportunity is advertised, you meet the requirements and apply. Let us start here.

As part of the application there is usually a question: “Do you have a judgement/ criminal record against your name?” At this point you have an option to be honest and say “Yes” and describe it or say “No” and hope it does not pop up. That would be unethical! By virtue of this question being asked at application stage, you are being given an opportunity to disclose your record so the recruiter can make a more informed decision. Yes – your criminal record does affect the application. Reminder – the if it is a criminal record it can be categorised as minor or serious depending on the offence. For a credit record – it can be material or immaterial depending on the amount and to the role you applied for.


For a criminal record, one can apply to have the record removed from police records and criminal registry. Depending on severity, this can be overlooked during the recruitment process if it was a minor offence like driving under the influence. However, theft or assault raise red flags to the recruiter and will negatively affect your application.

For a poor credit record, one can apply for debt review and work out a payment plan to have it cleared where possible. For commerce and finance related jobs, this is important as there person would be dealing with a companies finances and is expected to have a healthy financial background.


Background checks are meant to confirm whether the applicant is indeed who they say they are. This include verifying ID, drivers license and qualifications. It may extend to fingerprints, criminal and credit checks and contactable references. If you are a you person in trouble with the law, do not be discouraged but rather be honest from the application stage. Work on trying to resolve or clear the record to be in good standing. If all else fails, think about possible starting you own business as you will be accountable to yourself and own actions



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