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June 4th, 2020 | Steve Smith, Managing Director, EMEA

What UK Employers should know about COVID-19 & Criminal Record Checks

As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 impact together, there are glimmers of light beginning to show in certain parts of the globe, both in the form of reduced infection rates, and in the bringing together of communities. From neighbourhoods stepping out of their front doors each week to cheer for the relentless work of healthcare professionals to save lives, to the furlough initiatives by the government to save livelihoods, it is clear that together we’re stronger.

Further support from the UK government came in the form of the Home office and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) putting temporary measures in place for standard and enhanced disclosures, and provisions for the fast-track emergency checks of the adults’ and children’s bar list, all of which are free of charge. During these times, rapid recruitment of keyworkers makes all the difference in the fight against COVID-19, helping to ensure the right people are in the right places, sooner.

These changes strictly apply to those essential workers in healthcare and social care, including some volunteers that are employed to provide treatment to tackle the coronavirus in England and Wales.

Prioritizing Keyworkers

To bolster efforts against the virus, much like the DBS, Disclosure Scotland has been prioritizing applications for workers deemed critical including those in healthcare, pharmaceutical, childcare, social work, social care, prisons, justice and early years, primary and secondary education. According to Disclosure Scotland, other voluntary and keyworkers may also be prioritized when needed. Prioritization is very much on the agenda of Access NI too, as applications for those who are directly involved and actively dealing with the coronavirus are given priority status as part of the process.

A change to the DBS ID checking guidelines

Prior to the pandemic, DBS ID Check guidelines dictated that, employers were required to see original documents. Considering lockdown conditions, including government guidance to work from home wherever possible, physical inspection brings with it a whole host of difficulties which can prevent the submission of applications.

Subsequently, for a temporary period, the DBS and Access NI have amended their guidance, enabling ID documents to be viewed over a video link. Alternatively, scanned images can be used in advance of the DBS check submission. It’s important to note for Access NI, the employer would need to be in possession of the scanned images at the time of the video call or interview.

Playing our part to help

We’re proud to announce that where administration fees apply for these criminal record checks as part of the DBS, Sterling will donate the same amount to The British Red Cross, helping to enable their volunteers to support communities worst hit by the outbreak.  During these unprecedented times, it’s important to remove barriers, which allow for frictionless employment of these essential front-line workers.

Therefore, providing these organisations with fast, accurate, and compliant background checks is vital –  Find out what Sterling’s Managing Director Steve Smith had to say on our recent announcement. Or perhaps you’d like to explore the types of criminal record checks available for your organisation.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.