Vetting, disclosure and barring checks
You should carry out appropriate checks to make sure the people you recruit are suitable to work or volunteer with children and young people, whether this is happening online or face-to-face.
You should get at least two references for a candidate. It’s best practice to send a standardised form to referees, to ensure you get all the information you need. Make sure you send any forms securely.
If a referee is unable to give a reference because they have been furloughed, consider if there’s someone else in the organisation who could give a suitable reference.
You could arrange to speak to referees over the phone as well as getting written references to help verify that references are accurate.
Right to work
Even if the role is not paid, you may need to carry out a right to work check. The Home Office has published guidance on carrying out right to work checks during coronavirus (Home Office, 2020).
Checking self-disclosure forms
You should only check self-disclosure forms once a candidate has accepted a conditional offer. Review the information and assess whether the candidate is suitable for the role and your organisation.
Criminal records checks
You must carry out the necessary criminal records checks before appointing someone to a role that involves working or volunteering with children. You need to ensure the people you’re recruiting don’t have anything on their record that makes them unsuitable to work with children and young people.
Staff or volunteers who are undertaking regulated activity in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will need enhanced with barred list checks.
Regulated activity with children means carrying out any of the below activities frequently or with intensity (more than three days in a 30-day period or overnight).
- Unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children; providing advice/guidance on wellbeing, or driving a vehicle only for children.
- Working for a limited range of ‘specified places’ with the opportunity for contact with children and young people, for example schools, children’s homes, childcare premises.
- Unsupervised intimate or personal care of children.
- Health care (including by a registered health professional).
In Scotland, anyone carrying out regulated work with children needs to undergo a Protected Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check. Regulated work with children can be paid or voluntary. It usually involves:
- working directly with children
- teaching or supervising children
- providing personal services to children
- caring responsibilities.
The frequency and intensity requirement doesn’t apply in Scotland.
> Find out more about regulated work and activity
Usually, you need to check a candidate’s identification documents face-to-face in order to apply for a criminal record check and the checker must be in physical possession of the original documents.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has published guidance for employers in England and Wales on checking identification while limiting in-person contact during coronavirus (DBS, 2020a).
Fast-track emergency criminal records checks are also available for certain sectors whose work is vital to the coronavirus response. We’ve summarised the guidance about these in the next tab.
What to do if vetting checks raise concerns
If any concerns are raised from references or vetting checks, your organisation should assess whether the candidate is suitable for working with children.
You must pass on information to relevant authorities as necessary, such as the criminal records agency, professional bodies or police.
> Learn more about this in our online course
What do to if you can’t gather all the information you need
If you have been unable get all the necessary checks and references, you will need to complete a risk assessment to decide if it’s safe to appoint new staff or volunteers.
If there are gaps in someone’s employment history, or you’ve been unable to contact referees, consider if there is someone else who could provide a reference for this time, such as an organisation the candidate has volunteered with.
Use your risk assessment to decide whether the information you have received is sufficient, or whether you would be unable to safely appoint that individual at this moment in time.
> Learn more about what to do if vetting checks raise concerns