Video report from ITV News' Sascha Williams
People who have been sentenced to up to four years in prison will no longer have to declare their convictions for life under new legislation introduced today.
The Government said the reforms were based on evidence that shows that former offenders who are able to get back into employment are less likely to reoffend.
Under previous guidelines, any ex-inmates who were jailed for up to four years had to declare their criminal history for life but they can now avoid declaring it after seven years.
However, any former inmate applying to work in a school or hospital will still have to disclose their conviction.
One former offender, who was sentenced to three years in prison for aggravated burglary, said the move would open up new opportunities for him.
"It's wonderful. Fantastic. You feel you can go forward. I wish I was 10 years younger obviously because it would be more beneficial to me but even at 55 I feel some doors will open".
Critics argue that the reforms stop employers getting an accurate picture of their prospective staff, but the Government insist that safeguards exist for the most serious offenders and those punished for a mistake early in their life should not be punished for the rest of their lives.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the changes were "long overdue", adding: "People who have turned their backs on crime will be able to move on with their lives.
"Making a mistake and committing a minor crime when you are fifteen shouldn't mean you are barred from employment for the rest of your life,” he concluded.
Justice Minister Simon Hughes welcomed the changes saying: "If you can wipe the slate clean after a reasonable period, you can improve their chances of work. It means they can apply for insurance or mortgages and get on with their lives."