Using DBS Checks for Recruitment – Facts for Employers

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, you’ll know the value of having the right people around to support you. This is especially important within your business. So, getting your recruitment process right can be vital in hiring good team members who will contribute to your business’s success. This is particularly important if you’ll be working closely together in a small team, or where your staff will have direct contact with your clients and customers, or your own family members. 


There are some things you can do during the interview process to help you filter out the best candidates, but no matter how good your recruiting and interview techniques, it makes sense to also get as much information as possible before making any final hiring decisions. 


This is where DBS checks can help. 


What is a DBS Check? 


A DBS Check is an official process that looks into the background of an individual to check for any criminal convictions or cautions. 


The process is conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a public body that’s part of the UK Home Office. 


The purpose of DBS checks is to prevent candidates with unsuitable backgrounds being hired to work with vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly and those in other types of care. 


In some cases, employers are required by law to run a DBS check when recruiting for certain positions. 


There are three levels of DBS check and these vary in terms of what information is available: 



A Basic-level DBS Check will reveal ‘unspent’ convictions and cautions, which are offences that are not yet within the timeframe when they can be written off a personal criminal record. 


This is the lowest level of DBS check and may be suitable if a Standard or Enhanced Check is not required. 



A Standard-level DBS Check will again reveal unspent offences, but it will also show spent convictions and cautions, as well as reprimands or warnings.


There are certain positions where a Standard check is required, for example for roles within financial or security services. 



An Enhanced DBS Check will reveal the same information as the Standard check, ie spent and unspent convictions and cautions, reprimands and warnings, but in addition, it will show any other relevant information on record with the individual’s local police force. 


These Enhanced checks are a requirement for any roles that include working with, or coming into contact with, children and other vulnerable social groups.


When to use DBS Checks


DBS checks can be extremely useful in informing your hiring decisions. It’s also important to know when a DBS check is legally required, and which level of check is needed, because candidates need to be notified of this requirement at the application stage of the recruitment process. 


Also, if you ever have to mix family and work time, perhaps having your children with you at work, you will obviously want to ensure their safety and protection. 


However, DBS checks are not always available –  so how can you know when or if these are a necessity or an option?  


Here are the situations where you might need or be able to use DBS checks:


  • Basic Checks are not a legal requirement but they can be part of a more thorough recruitment process. If you wanted to carry out background checks on potential hires, you can ask candidates to provide their own Basic Check or you can request one on their behalf with their consent. 


  • Enhanced Checks are a legal requirement for roles such as teachers, social workers, carers, medical professionals and any roles that involve working with children. 


  • Certain roles which are exempt from legal guidelines on hiring candidates with a criminal record may require a Standard Check, however, there are exceptions to these requirements. This is an instance when seeking external advice can help to ensure you get the right information.  


If you are new to DBS checks, there are companies who specialise in helping you make the right decisions from both a business and legal standpoint, as well as the particular needs of small business owners. These services, known as an umbrella body, can also assist you with the entire process of running the right checks on potential employees, rather than dealing directly with the Disclosure and Barring Service. 


Umbrella bodies are well-suited to helping employers process these checks efficiently and cost-effectively. Other benefits of using an umbrella body include:

  • Streamlining the process to minimise delays. (Checks can often be completed within 24/48 hours.) 
  • Your data is confidential and secure. 
  • The process is Home Office approved and in line with the latest legal guidelines. 


If you’re new to recruitment or have infrequent hiring needs, an umbrella body can provide the advice and information you need to make the right decisions around DBS checks. 


This is especially important if you work in an industry where potential employees must be checked, (such as childcare, the care of vulnerable adults, finance or security), as well as for businesses who want to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.  


In any industry or business, though, DBS checks can help you make more informed recruitment decisions, helping to safeguard your customers, your existing staff and your family. Getting this step right can play an important role in the protection of society’s more vulnerable groups, as well as helping to ensure the security of your business environment.

Drew Neisser