This case involves a regional voluntary organisation that employs around 40 people and uses over 300 volunteers. They were advertising a vacancy for an office administrator.
As an organisation, they are used to recruiting volunteers in roles working with children and the elderly, and so they’re often doing enhanced DBS checks. That meant that with this new vacancy, they instinctively advertised it as involving an enhanced check too.
Fortunately, we were contacted by somebody who was interested in applying for this job, but they had a couple of old convictions that were now spent. However, because of the type of check the employer was planning to do, they would still have had to disclose.
We felt that it was questionable whether the employer was entitled to undertake this level of check, so we agreed to make direct contact with them, not revealing the details of the person we’d been contacted by. We wrote a letter to the Chief Executive, and immediately engaged in active discussions.
They were initially reluctant as an organisation, which meant that we decided to seek external advice from an organisation that provides technical advice to employers on DBS check eligibility – they confirmed with us that the role was not eligible for an enhanced check.
After passing this advice on, the organisation considered this internally and updated us a couple of weeks later to apologise and to accept that they had made a mistake. It seemed like there had been some tension internally as to their position. Eventually, they agreed to update the vacancy details to make it clear that an enhanced check wasn’t involved. 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 involve enhanced checks. It also demonstrates the anxiety that it causes for many people who, when they see the words ‘enhanced check required’, immediately distance themselves from the job because they are ashamed to disclose what are often old and minor convictions.