This case involves a regional voluntary organisation that were advertising a vacancy for a fundraiser.
The job advertisement stated that the job was exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and that all convictions, including spent ones, needed to be disclosed.
A fundraiser position is not on the list of exempted professions in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975. This sets out which jobs would be excluded from the protection of the 1974 Act (e.g. doctors, nurses, teachers etc) and where employers are entitled to ask about spent convictions as well as unspent convictions.
The job description did not suggest that a successful candidate would be engaging in any ‘regulated activity’ with children or vulnerable adults and it therefore appeared that there was no legal basis for a standard or enhanced DBS check. The position would have been covered by the ROA and the organisation would have been entitled to ask only about criminal convictions which were currently unspent.
We contacted the organisation and highlighted our concerns about the level of criminal record check being requested for this role. Following a discussion, the organisation agreed that the role wasn’t eligible for a standard or enhanced check and that they would update their recruitment pack accordingly. They also agreed to ensure that future vacancies were thoroughly checked for their eligibility.
This case shows the tendency of many charities working with vulnerable groups to assume that all roles in those organisations will involve enhanced checks. Many people with a criminal record who know that their convictions will be disclosed will be deterred from applying for jobs which require an enhanced level check. The disadvantage for organisations is that they could potentially be missing out on receiving applications from suitably talented and experienced individuals.