DBS Checks

09 July 2019

As an employer, you must protect any children or vulnerable adults you work with. So when you're hiring a new employee, make sure you carry out relevant criminal record checks against any unspent convictions or offences to ensure the safety of vulnerable groups.

Failure to perform the relevant checks or hire someone who failed a check can lead to legal action being taken against you.

In this guide, we'll discuss what a DBS check is, the different types of checks that can be done, and which jobs require one.

What is a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check?

A disclosure and barring service check is in place to enable employers to check the background of any potential employees.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure any potential employees are allowed to work with you and any groups of people you work for.

Is a DBS check a criminal record check?

DBS checks are forms of criminal record checks for employers. They’re in place to ensure any people they're hiring for their company aren't carrying any offences which may put others at risk.

Criminal record checks are a vital way to protect your current employees and current customers.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, employers should never discriminate against potential employees due to their past offences or convictions.

Are DBS checks different from CRB checks?

DBS checks were created when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged. Meaning that the Criminal Records Bureau CRB check is no longer in force, and DBS formed

However - CRB certificates are still around and you should accept them if provided to you during the recruitment process.

Why is it important to have DBS checks?

DBS checks are vitally important for all businesses to make safe recruitment decisions. As a business owner, you must do your due diligence when hiring a new employee.

The following are reasons why DBS criminal record checks are highly important:

  • Avoid legal risk: Although it isn’t a legal offence for you to hire an employee who has failed a DBS criminal record check at any level, you should make a sound recruitment decision.
  • Increase confidence in your employees: A passed DBS check will give you peace of mind you're hiring the correct employees for your company.

To fully understand how important DBS checks are in the modern business world, you need to be clear about who a DBS check protects.

A child playing with building blocks.

Which groups of people are DBS checks designed to protect?

DBS checks are in place to protect vulnerable groups and vulnerable adults, making them a crucial part of safeguarding.

A DBS check should be part of your hiring process when you're deciding whether to hire an applicant.

What are the different levels of DBS check?

There are four types of DBS check which you must be aware of:

  • Basic check.
  • Standard check.
  • Enhanced check.
  • Enhanced check with barred list.

To ensure you're protecting any vulnerable people you work with as best as possible, you must understand the different DBS checks that are available.

Basic DBS check

A basic DBS check (also known as a basic disclosure) is the lowest form of DBS check available. Basic checks will unspent convictions, and conditional cautions.

Basic DBS checks are available for people living in the UK and can be requested by any individual or employer. Basic checks aren't the correct approval required for all industries, so you must choose the correct one for your business.

Standard DBS check

A standard DBS check is a more in-depth criminal record check than a basic DBS check and is used by employers on behalf of an applicant. It checks any information held on unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings.

As well as provide further details on any unspent convictions on a person's criminal record in England and Wales, or convictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Enhanced DBS check

An enhanced DBS check shows unspent and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings. Along with any other relevant information or data considered relevant to the role held by the police.

Enhanced DBS checks show the same information as a standard DBS check and can only be obtained by employers.

Enhanced DBS with list check

An enhanced DBS with a list check will show the same information as an enhanced DBS check but will include a check of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) children's and adults' barred lists.

These lists show employers the details and information held on people barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. This type of enhanced DBS check is the toughest available compared to the other three.

Surgeons operating.

What jobs require DBS checks?

Any job that involves working with children or vulnerable adults in a regulated activity. A person who fails a DBS check won't be able to work in a regulated activity.

For employers, it's up to you to decide if a basic DBS check is required for any job, so it's difficult to pinpoint when a request will be made for this form of a check.

The following jobs require a type of DBS check:

  • Social workers.
  • Medical professionals.

Any type of job in a school or hospital will require a DBS check. Employees will require a Standard DBS certificate when entering a certain profession or industry, such as:

However, you can request a more detailed DBS check for certain roles, for example, healthcare for childcare. There are different rules regarding DBS checks for different roles, so make sure you know the rules for the industry you work in.

How long are DBS checks valid for?

Officially, there isn't an expiry date on DBS checks and there's no legal requirement for them to be renewed.

It's at the employer's discretion whether you choose to accept a DBS certificate from a previous role from a job applicant or request a new check. However, if you accept an old certificate you must check the following:

  • The applicant's identity matches the details on the certificate.
  • Check the certificate is at the right level and type for the role they've applied for.

As an employer, you decide when new checks are required. You can install a bi-annual DBS check renewal to ensure you're following the correct process in keeping your customers free from risk.

Two children writing.

How to apply for a DBS

Employers need to understand how to apply for a DBS certificate for potential or current employees. Such as the following:


  • Decide which type of DBS check is required, for example, standard or enhanced.
  • Complete a DBS application form.
  • Provide their personal details, five-year address history, and documents to prove identification. Documents needed may include passports or driver's licence.
  • The certificate will be sent to the employee in due course.

Should employees pay for a DBS check?

There's no legal requirement for employers or employees to pay for a DBS check – although there is a fee. However, if you're implementing a policy of regular DBS checks - then it may be difficult to ask employees to cover the cost.

Get expert advice on DBS checks with Peninsula

As an employer, you must do your due diligence when hiring new employees. This includes performing background checks on past criminal records and convictions.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS checks) are in place to ensure anyone working with children or vulnerable groups is safe to do so, and not bring an extra risk.

There are four different types of checks which can be carried out during the safeguarding process, giving you piece of mind when hiring.

Peninsula offers expert advice on DBS checks should you require it. Our 24/7 HR advice is available 365 days a year.

Want to find out more? Book a free chat with one of our HR consultants. For further information, call 0800 028 2420.

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