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Being Self-Employed with a Criminal Record

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Being self-employed generally means choosing to work independently either by starting your own business or by doing contract and freelance work. While self-employment gives an individual a sense of personal autonomy and control over their work, in some situations it could still require a background check – and most of the time a background check will also include a criminal record check.

Criminal record checks are an essential aspect of the hiring process, especially if the given sector deals with sensitive information. It’s important to note that even if the job is for sub-contracted freelance work, a criminal record check may still be applicable.

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Types of self-employment

Self-employment spans hundreds of different sectors and occupations in the labour market.

Some self-employed positions include:

  • Accountants
  • Doctors
  • Therapists
  • Mechanics
  • Real-estate agents
  • Consultants
  • Lawyers
  • Retail positions
  • Personal services
  • Beauty services
  • Manufacturing positions
  • IT software developers
  • Artists
  • Musicians

… and more.

Starting a Business

If an individual is self-employed, has a criminal record and wants to start a business, they may run into a few challenges. Many types of businesses require licenses, and the licensing process is often strict when it comes to criminal convictions. Liquor licenses, medical licenses, licenses to work with dangerous chemicals and regulated merchandise will all be prohibited if an individual has a criminal record.

Furthermore, if the previous criminal history includes sexual convictions, an individual will run into special challenges. For one, businesses will have to be strategically located away from schools and other institutions that concern vulnerable sectors. In many cases, registration on a public sex list will be necessary, and they will not be able to start a business that requires any contact with children.

Virtual Companies

Virtual companies and their respective jobs involve working for a company that mostly operates online. This type of work grew by 79.7% between 2005 and 2012 and is expected to increase an addition 40% by the year 2020. Today, working for a virtual company – and remote work in general – has become a popular option for many people. These days, it is possible to find work in sectors like education, marketing, translation, health care, travel and technology. Those with non-sealed criminal records may find challenges in obtaining this type of work depending on the sector they are applying for. This could be due to the following reasons:

Reputation – Online companies are extremely concerned with their reputation online since the Internet is their main platform for their public relations and business. These days, it’s easy to find information about a person’s criminal history on the Internet.

Positive image – Whether an individual chooses to start their own online business or work for one, they will require a positive image (especially online), as the focus will be on the individual’s entrepreneurial activities and professional credentials.

It is also important to note that non-sealed criminal records could also hold individuals back from internal promotions and other means of getting ahead in their chosen field.

How a pardon can help

Obtaining a pardon / record suspension will conceal a criminal record when a criminal background check is processed for any reason. This will remove certain obstacles presented by having a criminal record and allow an individual to benefit from a greater sense of freedom in their self-employment journey.