The problem with doing blanket enhanced DBS checks on all employees

We’ve recently been involved in a case where a refrigeration/air-conditioning company were looking to carry out enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks on all their service engineers irrespective of where they would be working.

The company concerned had just bought out another company and had taken on several new contracts. They had transferred over existing staff and intended on carrying out enhanced DBS checks on all of them.

We were contacted by one employee who was extremely concerned about his future job security if the company insisted on doing this level of check. He had received a conviction in 2009 which had resulted in a prison sentence. However, this was spent at the time he started working for the company and he had no reason to disclose it when he was asked whether he had any unspent convictions.

As his role as a service engineer only involved working on air-conditioning units in restaurants, we did not consider that it required an enhanced check. We raised this as an eligibility query with the DBS on the basis that the role did not involve:

  • Teaching, training, supervising, advising, transporting or caring for children or vulnerable adults.
  • Visiting any particular site on four or more occasions in a 30 day period
  • Having unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults

The DBS requested clarification from the Registered Body (RB) and were told that as the employer held contracts with care homes and specialist schools and colleges for children it ‘might’ be necessary for its employees to attend these sites, especially to cover sickness/holidays. The DBS confirmed that as a result of this information they believed that the job was eligible for an enhanced check.

We were able to provide further evidence to the DBS, namely time-sheets which demonstrated that in the last month, the individual concerned had never visited a care home or school. We also highlighted previous advice we’d received from the DBS which stated that:

“It was not enough to say that somebody might have to do something, it had to be part of their job role”

After considering this additional information, the DBS confirmed that, in their opinion an enhanced check was ineligible and the application would be withdrawn.

We also raised the fact that there were a number of other checks being done by the same employer for similar roles. At the time of writing, the DBS were investigating whether these had been processed or stopped.



This case showed how employers can assume that an enhanced DBS check is eligible merely because they hold contracts with care homes or schools etc, rather than considering the actual job role that an individual will have.


Notes about this case study


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