Every now and then, freelancers in a diverse variety of roles will come across a contract with some form of DBS check requirements.
The first time it happens, it may come as a bit of a shock – potentially even a little insulting, insinuating a lack of trust.
DBS checks are in fact a totally normal requirement in a number of circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at DBS checks, and how they might relate to freelancers in the modern work environment.
What are DBS checks?
DBS checks are a common kind of criminal background check which are carried out by the disclosure and barring service (DBS), a non-departmental government body that was set up in 2012. There are three main types of DBS check, outlined below:
1. Basic check.
The basic check is the least in-depth check. It looks only for unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, and can be requested by anyone, not just for specific positions. It’s a common requirement for a diverse range of industries, from hospitality to sales roles. Freelance workers in industries such as eventing might be required to do one, although this is varied, as it tends to be down to the discretion of the business itself, rather than any external regulatory body.
2. Standard check.
The standard check looks at both unspent and spent criminal convictions, reprimands and warnings. It’s often required in industries with a high professional standard, such as accountancy and the legal profession. Unlike the basic check, the standard check can only be requested for certain roles.
Freelancers working in a variety of industries where there is contact with sensitive data, such as accounts or lawyers, can expect to be asked to undergo a standard DBS check. Those working with sensitive individuals in a supervised situation, such as in education and healthcare, might also have to pass a standard check.
3. Enhanced check.
The enhanced check is the highest level of DBS check. In addition to spent and unspent criminal convictions, warnings and reprimands, the enhanced check will include any information the local police department considers relevant to the position being applied to.
Enhanced checks are a common requirement where there is an individual working in an unsupervised situation with a vulnerable individual; freelancers working in either healthcare or the medical profession may have to pass an enhanced check. The enhanced check can also include a barred list check, which will see if the individual is on any lists which bar them from working with vulnerable individuals.
Employment vs Freelance
Whether you’re employed or a freelancer won’t make a difference between whether or not you need a DBS check.
What matters is whether you’re working in an industry with regulatory requirements, like childcare or healthcare, or if the person hiring your services wishes that you pass one. Whether you’re working in these scenarios full time or on a part-time, freelance basis won’t make a difference to you needing a DBS check or not.
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