One of the first things to change during the Covid-19 pandemic was in recruitment processes. Starting with the NHS, employers quickly had to adjust to doing things online rather than face to face, while not compromising standards and safeguarding for the vulnerable groups which applicants will be working with.
As well as making several adjustments to the application system for disclosure checks, the government temporarily introduced a fast track method for DBS applications. Unlike other government fast track options this system was not a paid-for way of getting your check processed more quickly. The DBS fast track system prioritises applications from people applying for positions in healthcare and social care, ensuring that during the pandemic, the NHS and care homes could get staff into position quickly. Although these changes were supposed to be temporary, the Home Office and DBS has announced that these processes will continue until at least March and will be subject to further review, meaning that they could be extended even further.
Fast track DBS applications are restricted to certain carefully defined groups to ensure that there is space in the system to prioritise a minority of fast track applications. In order to qualify for a fast track DBS check the person involved must be:
- Appointed to provide pandemic-related care, or care services. This includes staff who are employed to fill jobs where the usual employee is seconded to staff vaccination centres of similar.
- Doing a job which is eligible for an enhanced DBS check, and Barring List check. This covers most positions in hospitals and care homes.
Using the Fast Track Route
It’s not up to applicants to keep up to date with the rules around fast track applications. Employers should know the current criteria for the process, and whether the position under consideration applies or not. If the position does not qualify for the fast track route, then applications can be made in the usual way. This involves completing the application form, either online or in hard copy format. The application form is compact, and asks for basic personal details such as name, date of birth and addresses where you may have lived over the past five years. Once the form has been completed, this is submitted to the DBS along with proof of identity. Documents such as passport, driving licence or utility bills can be used to verify that you are the person whose details are listed on the form.
Once the form arrives at the Disclosure and Barring Service, it can be checked against the database held by the Police which lists criminal convictions and cautions. If any are found, then the Police choose whether or not to disclose the information based on both the type of conviction, and the length of time since the conviction was recorded. The final step in the process is printing the certificate, which is then sent out to the applicant’s home address. DBS certificates are printed without an expiry date, giving employers the flexibility to decide how often it is appropriate to check staff.