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Volunteers and DBS Checks

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There’s a whole army of people up and down the UK volunteering their time for good causes. Many of them volunteer with children, or with elderly or vulnerable adults. When it comes to DBS checks for people who are volunteering there are the same requirements as for paid workers, but with a few important differences.



Basic, Standard and Enhanced Disclosure Checks

The same three levels of DBS checks apply to volunteers in the same way as paid workers. A basic DBS check is just verification of the current information held about you on the police computer in terms of unspent convictions. A basic disclosure isn’t an explicit requirement for any job, so it’s unlikely that a volunteer will be asked to apply for one. Standard and enhanced disclosures are a different matter. These sorts of checks can only be done if a volunteer or paid worker is going to undertake work known as regulated activity. Most people think this only applies to work with children, but that’s not the case. Someone applying to volunteer in the finance office of a major national charity, managing payments or receipts may need a standard disclosure as their position involves financial responsibility. Volunteers with organisations like Cub Scouts or gymnastics clubs will need an enhanced disclosure.


Regularity Checks

The other issue around volunteering is that DBS checks are not required on all volunteers in all circumstances. Volunteers have to be giving their time regularly to require a DBS check. Regularly is defined as at least once a week, or four times over the course of a month. The reasons for this is to cut down on the expense and administration involved with recruiting volunteers for one-off or infrequent events. Parents helping out once a term on a school trip don’t need to get an enhanced disclosure. A parent going in every week to help with listening to children read would. The only exception to this is where events require volunteers to be there overnight with children or vulnerable adults. In those cases, enhanced DBS checks are always needed.


Paying for DBS Checks

The other good news for volunteers is that they don’t pay for DBS checks. Voluntary organisations which use a high volume of volunteers should be aware of this. Volunteers should never be asked for money towards the processing of their DBS check.

The process of getting a DBS check as a volunteer is identical to the process for paid staff members. The same form is used, but with an extra tick box for stating that the position is voluntary. Usually, there will be someone in the voluntary organisation who will help with the DBS application and look at your identity documentation. If not, they’ll refer you on to an umbrella organisation where there will be someone who can help. Usually, it takes around 4 to 6 weeks to get your DBS certificate back in the post, but it can be longer at some times of year and in certain areas of the UK.