DBS Checks for Contractors: Our Complete Guide

Wondering about DBS checks for contractors?

DBS checks for contractors

Working in the contracting industry means that, most often, DBS checks are only needed for individual contracts rather than as an ongoing element of recruitment. As a result, it can be difficult to access information about DBS checks and the process to follow.

That’s why we’ve created this blog about DBS checks for contractors, designed to make the process and the key points easy to follow.

What are DBS checks, and why may contractors need them?

DBS checking is a service offered by the Disclosure and Barring Service. DBS checks are designed to prevent people from doing jobs they’re not suitable to do, and forms a key part of safeguarding.

DBS checks are criminal record checks that detail aspects of an individual’s criminal history. The information shown will vary depending on the level of the check.

There are three different levels of DBS check, and different eligibility criteria for each one (we’ll explore these later). Only organisations employing individuals in certain job roles are able to request the higher levels of check.

Contracting firms may need to request the higher-level DBS checks for employees if they work in an environment which would entitle them to one of these checks, such as a care home, school or hospital (if they have access to wards).

What are the different levels of check, and how are they relevant for contractors?

There are three main levels of DBS check:

  • Basic DBS check: This level of check is available to anyone over the age of 16. It will detail any unspent convictions the applicant has. Contractors could request these checks for all employees as there aren’t any eligibility requirements.
  • Standard DBS check: This is the next highest level of DBS check. It will detail both spent and unspent convictions, as well as any cautions, warnings of reprimands the applicant has received, as long as they aren’t protected by filtering. There are eligibility requirements in place to obtain a standard DBS check. The requirements centre around specific job roles, which tend to be positions of trust and authority – for example, solicitors and accountants. In terms of DBS checks for contractors, any employee who works in a hospital and has access to patient wards during the course of their work would be eligible for a standard DBS.
  • Enhanced DBS check: This is the highest level of DBS check available. It will detail the same level of information as a standard DBS, but will also include the option for the applicant’s local police force to add any information they hold and deem relevant. If eligible, employers can also request checks against the children’s and/or vulnerable adults’ barred list as part of this check. These checks are often relevant for contractors who carry out work in establishments where they may have contact with children or vulnerable adults, like schools or care homes. Employees working in organisations like these would be eligible for an enhanced DBS check, as long as they met the frequency requirements.

What are the key eligibility requirements?

When applying for DBS checks for contractors, consider the eligibility requirements to determine which level of check is most suitable for each individual employee.

To confirm which level of check is best, you can contact the DBS or use their online eligibility tool.

To give you an idea of how this works in practice, we’ve provided a couple of case studies that outline some of the most common examples of where contractors may be eligible for higher levels of DBS check.

DBS checks for contractors: Working in a care home

If you’re carrying out work in a care home, your employees may be eligible for enhanced DBS checks.

They would be eligible if they work in a care home at least twice in a 30-day period. This only has to be on these two occasions, so it doesn’t have to be every month.

If this is the case for your company we would recommend contacting the care home you’re contracted with to discuss the requirements further.

DBS checks for contractors: Working in a school

If you are carrying out work in a school, it is again highly likely that your employees may require a higher level of DBS check.

If an employee works in any school at least four times in a 30-day period, they would usually be eligible for an enhanced DBS check.

When working in schools, there is also the possibility that the nature of their contact with children means employees are also eligible for a check against the children’s barred list, which contains details of anyone barred from working with children.

When contracting for a school, we would recommend contacting the school in question or the DBS to confirm which checks are required.

DBS checks for contractors: A summary

There are number of points to consider when looking at DBS checks for contractors:

  • Confirm which level of check is most suitable for each employee. The nature of different contracts, their location and the frequency of work will affect the level of check each employee is eligible for. For confirmation, contact the organisation you’re contracting for, or the DBS.
  • Not eligible for a standard or enhanced DBS check? Not to worry, all employees can have a basic DBS to give you an extra level of reassurance.

If you have any more questions about DBS checks for contractors, or DBS checks in general, please get in touch.

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