More of us than ever are taking the option of being self-employed, attracted by the flexibility and the chance to be our own boss. Starting your own business gives you a lot to think about. You’re responsible for everything from tax to attracting customers to health and safety. One of the most confusing aspects for many people is how to get a disclosure check from the DBS in England and Wales, or the other similar bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are several options, but this will depend on the type of work you’re doing.
Basic Disclosure Check
The least detailed type of check is the basic disclosure. This level of check is available to everyone, whether self-employed, employed or a volunteer. A basic disclosure is a statement of your current, unspent criminal record. It’s a good way of showing prospective clients that you are of good character and have nothing in your recent past which might be of concern. However, it’s not nearly as detailed as other types of disclosure check. Basic disclosure is a good starting point, but people working with children or vulnerable adults might need to look for a different type of check.
If you’re going to be working in jobs which usually require a more detailed level of checking, this is where you can run into problems when self-employed. These checks are usually only available through an employer. As self-employed people don’t have an employer, they cannot go down this route. However, there may be the option of using an umbrella body. These are organisations which regulate people working in certain occupations. For example, Ofsted doesn’t just inspect schools, it regulates childminders and nurseries too. If you’re working as a swimming teacher, you may be affiliated to Swim England or similar. All of these organisations are umbrella bodies and will help with processing enhanced DBS applications for people working under their system. Look on the website of relevant umbrella bodies to find out their policy, and what they can do to help.
Other Policies and Procedures
People who are working in self-employed roles often get hung up on DBS checks and forget about the other stuff they should be doing. A DBS check isn’t a substitute for having written policies about how you’re going to manage children or older people under your care. If you’re a member of an umbrella organisation, they often give a lot of training on safeguarding and other issues which will keep you on the right side of the law and reassure your clients and their family.
Becoming an Employer
Over time, and if your business is successful, you might eventually be in the position of taking on staff of your own and making the switch into the role of employer. It’s then up to you to manage the DBS checking for your own staff. For small companies, the best route is usually to carry on using the appropriate umbrella body. The DBS can also give guidance on your rights and responsibilities.