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Can My Employer Check My Criminal Record?

Apply for a DBS Check

The Disclosure and Barring Service has been in operation for 10 years now, and since the organisation started its work in December 2012 it has processed over 52 million checks. Despite the huge volume of checks which have been processed, many job seekers are still confused about exactly what an employer is allowed to ask, and what they can do with any information provided.


Basic DBS Check

We’ve all seen a question on a job application form about whether or not you have any convictions which are not considered spent under rehabilitation law. This question pre-dates the DBS, but many employers are phasing it out as many believe it discriminates against those who may have committed very minor offences. A basic DBS check is another way of checking the same information. Any employer can ask applicants to have a basic DBS check, which will confirm whether or not they have a current criminal record. There is a cost associated with doing checks though and many employers who want workers to start straight away do not feel the need to run basic checks on their workers.


Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks

Employers can only ask you to apply for a more detailed DBS check when you are doing work which falls into the definition of regulated activity. The government decides what they mean by regulated activity, and so employers do not have the flexibility to choose what sort of check they wish employers to have. Similarly, if the position requires an enhanced or standard DBS check, the employer can’t opt out of checking staff as it is a legal requirement. There is lots of information on the DBS website to help employers keep on the right side of the law regarding DBS checks, and workers can find a lot of explanation and useful information on there too.


The Application Process

The application process for a DBS check is standardised across England and Wales and will be the same for every employer. A Basic DBS check can be done online, and all applicants will need their addresses over the last five years, National Insurance number, driving licence and passport. If applicants don’t have all of these documents, they can still apply for a basic DBS Check using other combinations of ID to prove their identity.


Keeping Your Information Safe

The other major responsibility which an employer has is to keep information about criminal records safe and private. This responsibility falls under Data Protection legislation rather than DBS rules. Applicants should be reassured that employers must take steps to keep their information private, restricting access to people who only need to see it. That could mean saving information in a password-protected file or locking it away in a filing cabinet. If applicants do have criminal records, then this information can only be used for making the decision about recruitment. Most employers will not keep a copy of DBS certificates, just make a note of the number and the date on which the certificate was seen.