Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Living the Catch-22 life

I was out yesterday, shopping with my girlfriend. I can do this in the middle of the day because I do not have a job. I received a call from a lady who was considering me for a position. She was interested in why I had not worked for several years. I explained that it was because I had suffered from a social phobia. In plain language, strangers scared me half to death. I got better last year, but almost nobody wants to employ someone with a half-decade gap in their employment history. She asked me to ring her back this morning, so I did. Unfortunately, she had chatted to some colleagues and already made up her mind not to take me on, lest the stress cause me to have a relapse. In vain did I say that it would not happen. So that's that.

Inevitably frustrated, I decided to tug at another loose thread. Back at the end of last year, November-December time, I took a course to be an assistant-teacher. To get a placement, so the company said, I needed a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau - to see if one has done anything dangerous that means one ought not to be around children) check and two referees. At the time I had not the latter, but asked the company to go ahead with the former. I sorted out some references, and rang back around February, only to find out that the CRB had not been sorted out. Financially, I could have paid for it in December, but when I rang back I was bust. I would have put it on the credit-card mountain, had it been done. As it had not, I decided against continuing. A few months later I had a spot of spare cash, and rang up again. The lady at the other end was busy that day or the right person to take my call was not about, so she promised to ring back the next day. I waited. Then I got distracted by Easter, birthdays, weddings and other important things. She never rang back.

Today, spurred on by the first irritation, I rang back. The company no longer does CRB checks "as we weren't getting the volume". They have not done them for a month. I laughed rather bitterly. Then I was asked if I had looked at any schools that I wanted them to contact on my behalf. I replied that I had not for two reasons. First, the company had told me that I needed the CRB check done, and second, the company promoted itself to me on the basis that it would seek out employment opportunities for me. The general wording was that "we will keep looking for jobs until we find one for you". Well, bravo, I say. Bravo. They might not be able to keep their promises (and they clearly employ staff who meet that core value of dishonesty or vapid uselessness), but they certainly know how not to keep someone who has given them money informed, and bestow him with an acid temperament.

Well, I am off to sort out a CRB. I trust you folk are having a finer start to the day than I am!

EDIT: Oh, no, I am not! It turns out that I cannot.

Can you apply for your own criminal record check?

The self-employed or individuals can't legally apply for a criminal record check on themselves. This is because they are unable to assess their own suitability for a job.
Instead you may wish to:
  • register with an agency that can ask for a CRB check to assess your suitability to work for them
  • apply for a basic check from Disclosure Scotland which will provide details of any unspent convictions
  • make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act to your local police force to find details of any criminal record
 So I cannot apply for a check that I need before I can get a job. The agency that told me it would sort it out would not. I know I have not got a criminal record. The only time anything has come up is when I accidentally drove past a traffic camera in Slough (never been there before nor since) at 40 mph, thinking it was a 40mph zone. It was a 30mph zone. Bloody bureaucracy.


  1. Sorry for the crap that has landed on your plate, sounds really tough.

    As for the nice lady who spoke to other staff who now feels it's in your best interest not to employ you for a past illness. Well you have two options. Contact her and say you are now OK as you have already stated and if she needs confirmation she can contact your doctor. If she still says no then contact a solicitor and get her company for discrimination. Option 2, just go to th solicitor without giving her a chance. Under fairly new (couple of years) legistration she ca not ask about illness nor can she not employ based on a present or past disability your mental health issue comes under disability). I doubt it would come to court and either a post would have to be made or more likely a fairly large capital sum would have to be given to you to stop it going to court and costing far more.

    That two year gap will be hard to overcome at any time but right now it is extr hard given the number out of work. I have not worked for just over a year and when I am able to start looking for work I know I have no chance of getting back into a position I held before and lower positions are not available as I would be a threat to those who would take me on. I have to look for a different type of work.

    I would instead if I was you claim traveling through europe or such like, just need to have the background information ready. So say you went backpacking for 6 months but struggled to get back into employment since.

    As fot the police check, go to the Job Centre and tell them you need this check to better your chance of employment and ask them to both fund and get it (cutting out both problems) they will say no of course but you write to the head of the dept. saying how disapointed you are that even though they have don nothing for you so far tey fail to help when they can. Send a copy to your local MP as well. I almost guarantee success at that point! Other option (check with the JC) is to offer volentry work at a school, they will need to do the check on you. Ask for a copy and a;so act as a reference.

    Hope some of this helps


    1. Sorry, I was very self-obsessed for a while there. I hope you have good fortune in your search, too, Ian!

  2. Cheers, Ian, I shall give this a go!

  3. Excellent news on that front. I rang her back and now I've an interview on Monday. Cheers muchly, Ian!

  4. Very helpful advice from Ian. All the best for the interview. Wondering if you could use "taking care of a family member" as a future explanation for not being in paid employment. And say you don't want to go into details, if pressed further. Shows you as dedicated, caring, not lazy. Not saying you are lazy, but employers might wonder... shall I shut up now before I say something to make you take umbrage..

    1. No, no, I take it all in good part, and I know you're not saying anything ill - just suggesting what employers might suspect! :-D Cheers!

  5. Update: I went for the interview yesterday and didn't get it. Having looked into the company online beforehand, I was a bit wary, and when it turned out in the interview that one has to bully people into buying advertising space then and there, I was rather relieved not to get it. As the chap said, "You seem too nice." Funnily enough, he suggested I should be a teacher, too.


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