Enhanced Disclosure Checks

  • Recruitment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Enhanced disclosure checks advice guide for employers from Peninsula Business Services UK. Employers call us today on 0800 0282 420.

Some jobs may require a candidate to go through in-depth background checks.

One type is known as an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Check. These are different from standard or basic checks. Meaning, if your business needs them, you must process them in the proper manner.

If you ignore DBS compliance, you could end up hiring people illegally, facing reputational damages, and risking your customers or cliental.

In this guide, we'll look at what an enhanced DBS check is, what the law covers, and how to correctly conduct these checks in the workplace.

What is an enhanced DBS check?

An enhanced DBS check is an in-depth inspection into a person's criminal record and barring history.

The check is used to vet people for jobs that involve working with vulnerable groups. And it's considered as the highest level of DBS check available in the UK (compared to a basic or standard DBS check).

It helps employers become aware of an applicant's criminal history - making sure they don't appear on a children or adults barred list.

What does an enhanced DBS check cover?

Enhanced checks cover a number of things; but they're all usually carried out by the local police, as well as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The UK government website outlines what type of offences may account to DBS checks. (This includes offences linked to both the children and adult barred list). For example:

  • Cautions and warnings.
  • Spent convictions (i.e., complete penalty).
  • Unspent convictions (i.e., ongoing penalty).
  • Police intelligence reports (including details from local police).
  • Inclusion on the children and/or adults barring list.

There are certain types of criminal records which are always included in a standard or enhanced DBS check. For example, violent assault, sexual misconduct, and safeguarding offences.

The UK government won't disclose all types of criminal history for an enhanced check. For example, they won't provide fixed penalty notices, like speeding tickets or driving licence suspensions.

Who requires an enhanced DBS check?

It’s common to think enhanced DBS checks are needed for only roles with vulnerable groups. But that’s not the case.

Here are examples of certain professions where they’re required:

  • Healthcare workers: These workers include juniors, supervisors, and anyone working as a regulated healthcare provider. These jobs are usually found in hospitals, GP practices, or other medical facilities.
  • Social care workers (adults): These workers usually work in retirement, rehabilitation, or care homes. They'll offer hands-on physical assistance for adults with mobility issues (relating to age, illness, or disability).
  • Social care workers (children): These workers will work directly with children, like in schools or through social services. They may require an additional enhanced check related to working with minors.
  • Personal care: These workers may be privately hired to provide personal assistance. They may help vulnerable adults with a regulated activity, like bathing or feeding them.

What is the law on enhanced DBS checks?

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA), enhanced DBS checks must include details on all recorded convictions. (This includes spent and unspent convictions).

Enhanced checks also cover any criminal information found in local police records, or on the Police National Computer (PNC). They can even include checks made by the government, like the Department for Education (DfE) or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Employers can only request an enhanced disclosure if the person is already employed by them. Or if they've been offered employment that requires one. The person's job must involve caring, training, or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults.

Are there different types of enhanced disclosure checks?

Yes, there generally two types of enhanced DBS checks: enhanced with a barring list and enhanced without a barring list.

Enhanced with a barring list check

This is used for job positions like teachers, healthcare workers, and taxi drivers. Their role usually involves direct contact with relevant children or vulnerable adults.

This type of enhanced DBS check will uncover things like spent convictions (and unspent convictions), warnings, or even checks against the ISA barred lists.

Enhanced without a barring list check

This is used for jobs that don't have regular activity with children or vulnerable adults but could be in the same environment. Like, a part-time healthcare assistant working in a care home.

If an applicant is working around children, they may need an enhanced DBS check with children's barring list. Like, an applicant applying to be a school bus driver.

How to conduct an enhanced DBS check in the workplace

Every employer will protect their business from safeguarding issues. And this should include conducting checks when hiring people for sensitive jobs

By making enhanced checks, you're protecting your business from such threats. Let's look at ways to conduct an enhanced DBS check in the workplace:

Gain the applicant's permission

Before you think about registering or researching DBS checks, you must gain the applicant's permission to start one.

Even if you've advertised that your job requires standard disclosure or an enhanced check, you can't contact the police without their consent. This is because criminal records count as protected personal information, under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Register to DBS check

The next step involves registering with the DBS check. This must be done with the police authority, as well as the government's Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The applicant can register by filling out a hard copy of the application form. But it's more common to complete online enhanced DBS checks.

Remember, individuals (like self-employed people) can't make the application themselves. It must be done by an organisation.

Provide identification documents

The applicant will then be asked to provide identification documents along with their application form.

To meet the eligibility criteria, they'll need to provide original documents of their:

  • Passport.
  • Driving licence (with their date of birth).
  • National Insurance Number (NIN).
  • Any two documents as proof of address: A utility bill, bank statement, or mortgage proceedings.

The employer will complete checks on these documents before approving the application form. After this, the form is submitted to the Disclosure and Barring Services.

Receive the enhanced DBS certificate

If there are no issues found by the police or DBS, the applicant will receive the enhanced DBS certificate.

For the employer, it's best to gain a hard or digital copy of the DBS certificate. Make sure this is a legitimate copy by matching reference numbers, or following it up with your correspondence with the Disclosure and Barring Services. 

How long does an enhanced DBS check take?

An enhanced disclosure can take as little as 24 hours from the application date. Other times, the process may take between five to ten working days.

But it'll depend on what type of information or records need to be inspected. The turnaround time can be even longer if an applicant needs to change their name, add another address, or has prior convictions.

Who pays for the enhanced DBS check?

Usually, the applicant will pay for their own enhanced DBS check. And this is made clear within the recruitment process.

But an employer can decide to pay for their DBS check or reimburse applicants who receive a DBS certificate.

The cost for an enhanced DBS check is £38 (as of 2023). But the price may vary depending on which application process you use, or how many DBS checks you require for your business.

Get expert advice on enhanced DBS checks with Peninsula

When you need to request a DBS check, there are many factors you need to consider. But make sure you follow them all, as this protects your employees, customers, and the public.

If you ignore DBS check laws, you could end up hiring people illegally, facing reputational damages, and risking your customers or cliental.

Peninsula offers expert advice on enhanced DBS checks. Our HR team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Get advice from one of our HR consultants. For further support, call our telephone number 0800 028 2420.

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