Welcome to most readers and seen by many as long overdue is the Disclosure and Barring Service’s new Update Service which is stated to be one of the Government’s top priorities and came into force on 17 June 2013. As stated on the www.gov.uk website: ‘it will put individuals in greater control of their own information; allow DBS certificates to be reused when applying for similar jobs; and reduce bureaucracy’. The new initiative is intended to enable individuals, for an annual fee of £13, to subscribe to the DBS Update Service which provides them with DBS certificates which will be kept up to date and be transferable from job to job (a problem that dogged the last scheme where employees had to apply for a new certificate for each new job).
The benefits are clear. The recruitment process should hopefully be much quicker since employees that work at different workplaces (e.g. locum or music teachers working at different schools) do not have to reapply for a certificate each time, which used to slow up the process of employment. Employers are able to make free online status checks, with the employee’s consent, and employees are able to challenge the contents of their certificates before they are released to third parties. The DBS will no longer automatically issue a copy of the applicant’s DBS certificate to the registered body who countersigned the application form and employers will need to ask the applicant for sight of the DBS certificate.
Employers will doubtless be greatly relieved that that they can now make instant online checks and will have no more DBS application forms to fill in. The reduction of bureaucracy in this case will be very welcome. Detailed guidance for employers and employees is available on the www.gov.uk website, including a facility to register online.
Separately – but on a related theme – employers should note that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2013, from 29 May 2013 most protected convictions and protected cautions do not need to be disclosed in a DBS certificate and employers will not be able to ask questions about such minor or old convictions or to rely on them to refuse employment or to dismiss an employee. There are some excepted job positions. This Order comes into force as a result of the Court of Appeal decision in R(T and others) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester and others in which the Court held that blanket disclosure of all convictions and/or cautions was disproportionate as a means of achieving the legitimate aim of protecting employers and those in their care. Such disclosure may interfere with an individual’s right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, some critics of the Order claim that the new legislation does not distinguish the type of caution or conviction – whilst minor, it could still be relevant to a particular type of employment. In the meantime, the Supreme Court is due to hear the Home Office’s appeal in R(T) in late July 2013.