Article

Temporary pre-employment checks

These temporary measures are intended to help facilitate normal check requirements that may be more challenging while government restrictions apply.

2 April 2021

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we recognise employers will need to engage increased numbers of workers to support services under pressure, at very short notice. And will need to do this in a way that continues to give high levels of assurance about a person's suitability to do the role they are being recruited to.

The temporary pre-employment check measures outlined below are intended to help facilitate normal check requirements that may otherwise become more challenging while Government restrictions apply. Where reasonably practical, normal checking requirements outlined in the NHS Employment Check Standards must be followed.

The temporary measures are subject to review as the pandemic evolves. We will continue to work across the system with the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) and other national and regulatory bodies to ensure employers can continue to safely meet legal requirements.

Where NHS staff and bank workers are being redeployed to support the pandemic, employers should ensure there is a legal agreement to share information about checks, core skills training and other clearances using digital systems, such as ESR or the digital staff passport (NHS in England only) to avoid any unnecessary duplication of requirements. Further information about the staff passport can be found on NHS England and Improvement's website

If you have any questions regarding the temporary measures, please drop an email to employmentchecks@nhsemployers.org

  • Seeking high levels of assurance about a person's identity during COVID-19 continues to be of primary importance as this is essential to validate all other pre-employment checks that need to be obtained as part of the recruitment process. 

    The temporary measures outline how employers verify a person's identity remotely while government restrictions on staying safe by social distancing still apply. These adjustments are aligned to guidance issued by the Home Office on right to work checks and the Disclosure and Barring Service in regard to obtaining criminal record checks. It is recommended that all three checks are verified at the same time to avoid any unnecessary duplication of requirements which may be challenging at this time.

    It is important to note that these temporary measures only apply where it is not safe or practical to follow normal checking procedures outlined in the identity check standard.

    Further information about right to work and criminal record checks can be found further down in this section.

    How to conduct the verification of identity check

    1. Ask the applicant to provide a scanned copy or photo of their original identity documents via email or by using a mobile app/ This should include one of the following combinations:

    Combination 1:

    • two forms of photographic personal identification
    • one form of identity showing the applicants' current residing address

    Combination 2:

    • one form of photographic personal identification
    • two forms of identity showing the applicants' current residing address

    Combination 3:

    • A current passport-compliant photograph of themselves. NB: employers can temporarily accept expired passports, as long as they are within six months of their expiration date, as proof of identity
    • two forms of identity confirming their current residing address
    • two forms of non photographic identity

    A list of recommended forms of identity can be found in Appendix one of the identity check standard.

    2. Arrange a video call with the individual and ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copies sent by email or mobile app.

    3. Record that a check has been done remotely because of COVID-19 and the date of that check.

    Employers must continue to seek original documentation as soon as practical. As a minimum, individuals should be asked to show one form of photographic personal identity when they first take up the position or are required to undertake induction or other type of training. Other original documents may need to be presented at this point, if they have not already been seen and validated earlier in the process (e.g. where the interview was conducted face to face).

    Employers should be mindful, that because of COVID-19, some individuals may be unable to provide the necessary documentary evidence. During this period, employers must take extra care to ensure applicants are not discriminated against because they genuinely cannot present the prescribed range of documents. In such cases, employers should take a risk-based approach to recruitment based on the range of documents applicants can reasonably provide at this time.

    Seeking assurances

    Every assurance should be obtained to ensure documents are bona fide and the identity can actually be attributed to the individual being appointed. Including checking that photographs are a true likeness of the person presenting themselves.

    Documents containing biometrics, registration/issue numbers or other security features should be verified in the usual manner utilising any digital platforms which are available such as Gov.uk/verify, the Home Office settlement scheme/employer checking service or the DVLA. These platforms not only help to provide assurance about the document's integrity and validity, but it may also provide the necessary assurances that a document has not been reported as lost or stolen and therefore may be subject to identity fraud.

    For other documents such as bank and utility statements, we recommend that these are validated by asking the applicant to access their account while on the video call and a screenshot taken of any relevant information so that this can be retained on file.

    Where checks return information that contradicts the details provided by the applicant and raises concerns, employers should:

    • proceed in a sensitive manner, there is often a reasonable explanation for apparent inconsistencies
    • attempt to address any concerns directly with the applicant.

    In exceptional circumstances, where checks reveal substantial misdirection, employers may feel it appropriate to report these concerns to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority or the local police. Employers can also call the 24-hour fraud and corruption reporting line on 0800 028 40 60.

  • Temporary measures regarding right to work checks will end on 5 April 2022. Further details can be found in our latest news page.

    On 30 March 2020, the Home Office introduced temporary measures to allow employers to: 

    • conduct document verification as part of a video call
    • ask applicants/existing workers to send scanned documents or a photograph of documents for checking via email or mobile app
    • record on file (eg using ESR) that checks have carried out 'adjusted checks on [date] due to COVID-19'
    • if the worker has a biometric residence permit/card or status under the EU settlement scheme, checks can be conducted using the Home Office's online right to work checking service while doing a video call - permission must be sought from the applicant.
    • We would recommend that the verification of identity and requirements to apply for a DBS check are conducted at the same time as the right to work check, to remove any unnecessary requirements for applicants to present documentary evidence. 
    • The online checking process does not negate the need for employers to see and verify original documentation at the earliest opportunity. Employers should continue to refer to Home Office guidance to ensure they remain compliant with immigration rules on checking right to work during the pandemic emergency.
    • Our section on overseas skilled supply provides the latest information about changes to the immigration rules which will have a significant impact on what you need to check and verify as part of your right to work check. It includes information about visa extensions in-country, what's required for those coming through the temporary registers, arrangements for language and skills testing for overseas trained professionals, and quarantine rules. It also provides detailed information on the right to work checks for overseas national specifically. 
  • Criminal record checks continue to play an important part of the check process to ensure safe services and patient care. Below are the measures the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put in place to help facilitate timely and effective processing of checks during the pandemic.

    Employers must continue to obtain a self-declaration form from all applicants as per current guidelines.

    Checking identity to enable a DBS application

    Ensuring safeguarding

    Fast-track DBS checks

    DBS check eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination workforce

    Current staff taking on additional duties

    Recruiting from overseas

    Checking identity to enable a DBS application

    As of 27 March 2020, the DBS introduced measures to enable employers to process DBS check applications in advance of seeing original documentation. Employers can:

    • conduct documentary verification as part of a video call
    • ask applicants/existing workers to send scanned documents or a photograph of documents for checking via email or mobile app
    • record on file (eg using ESR) that they have carried out "adjusted checks on [date] due to COVID-19".

    The temporary measures do not negate the need for employers to see original documents at the earliest opportunity (ie when the individual undertakes induction or other training or when they first commence work, whichever is soonest). Full guidance on temporary measures can be found on the DBS section of the gov.uk website

    Ensuring safeguarding

    • Employers should check whether appointees have subscribed to the DBS update service and seek the individual’s permission to access information about their criminal record check status online. Where individuals are subscribed and a check can be conducted online, there is no further requirement for a DBS check, unless it indicates that information is known about the individual, or the role they are being appointed to do requires a different level of check. 
    • Employers can accept pre-disclosed DBS checks that have been obtained by another organisation for another role. Where it’s the organisation’s policy to undertake three-yearly periodic checks, employers may wish to align any decision to accept pre-disclosed information with local arrangements. Any decision to accept pre-disclosed information must be based on an appropriate risk assessment as outlined in guidance for employers on the DBS website. 
    • Certain positions may be eligible for a fast track check against the adults and children's barred lists which may be accepted in advance of the full enhanced certificate being received and where safeguards can be put in place. See more information in the section below.

    Fast-track DBS checks

    The free DBS fast-track check against the barred list(s) is a temporary measures and applies to recruitment in England and Wales only.

    The check must only be obtained where all the following criteria is met: 

    • individuals are specifically being appointed to deliver pandemic related treatment, care or services. Including individuals appointed to backfill where staff in those roles fall ill with pandemic related illnesses or are required to self-isolate
    • any such role would normally be eligible for an enhanced with barred list check. Including regulated healthcare professions and other roles which are not regulated, such as hospital porters transporting patients who have pandemic related illnesses
    • a full enhanced disclosure is obtained at the same time.

    For all other non-pandemic related recruitment, employers must obtain a DBS check through the normal route and usual fees will apply. This is to ensure the DBS can flex to give priority to support employers to safely meet workforce needs as the pandemic evolves. 

    Once the fast track check has been received and it shows no barring relates to the individual concerned, employers may appoint them into a regulated activity with adults and/or children. Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to supervise and manage the individual until the full disclosure has been received. 

    Further considerations may need to be made once the full enhanced disclosure has been received and employers must put appropriate measures in place to deal with any issues that may arise.

    Further information about new measures introduced under temporary legislation, eligibility and how to apply for a fast-track check can be found on the gov.uk website.

    DBS check eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination workforce 

    Where recruitment is taking place for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, employers will need to assess whether a DBS check may be needed based on the responsibilities of the role and level of contact with patients. The job role examples below will help determine whether a check is required and at what level. They should be used in conjunction with our DBS eligibility tool and our criminal record checks standard. The responsibilities a staff member may have under each role may vary and as such employers should use their own discretion when organising checks.

    Once you have established eligibility, whether you need to carry out a new check will be dependent on a number of factors.

    • Where staff already working in the NHS have had a DBS check within the last three years, or are subscribed to the DBS update service, this can be relied on and accepted if the check was at the right level. If there is a trigger for a new check (e.g. the DBS check was carried out more than three years ago, or their original disclosure showed offences that might need to be considered) then consideration must be given as to whether a new check would be required.
    • Where staff are deployed through NHS England and NHS Improvement's Bring Back Staff (BBS) scheme, Capita will have undertaken a range of checks when individuals were first accepted onto the scheme, including a DBS check. Where staff can present a letter issued through the relevant BBS regional team confirming clearances obtained at the correct level, this can be relied on and accepted.
    • Those newly recruited to the NHS (or requiring a new check) to work in regulated activity will be eligible for a free and fast track check.

    Vaccinator / pandemic immuniser -  responsibilities include administration of the vaccine. The provision of healthcare is regarded as regulated activity and therefore the role is eligible for an enhanced DBS check with adults barred list information. If the role will also involve the vaccination of children, it will be eligible for a check against the children's barred list too.

    Vaccination care / support volunteer - responsibilities include the care of people that are unwell as a result of the vaccination process or have suffered an allergic reaction to the vaccine. The provision of healthcare is regarded as regulated activity and therefore the role is eligible for enhanced DBS check with adults barred list information. If the role will also involve providing care to children, it will be eligible for a check against the children's barred list too.

    Patient advocate - responsibilities include meeting and greeting people attending the vaccination site, explaining the process to people and providing pre and post care (observation). The role involves face-to-face interactions with patients who visit the vaccination site and entering patient areas. The role is therefore eligible for a standard DBS check.

    Clinical supervisor - responsibilities include day-to-day management of clinical staff providing healthcare which is regarded as regulated activity. The role is therefore eligible for for an enhanced DBS check with barred list information. 

    Vaccination admin and/or reception support - responsibilities include providing administrative support, recording vaccination consent, managing vaccination records and reception support at a vaccination site. The role involves face-to-face interactions with patients who visit the vaccination site and entering patient areas to collect or deliver patient records. The role is therefore eligible for a standard DBS check. If the role will purely involve having access to patient identifiable data but no access to patients, then it would not be eligible for a standard disclosure but you may wish to consider whether it would be appropriate to obtain a basic DBS disclosure. 

    Cleaner - carrying out cleaning duties when considered in isolation, are not eligible for a DBS check. However, if duties are concerned with ensuring hygiene and cleanliness of patient areas to reduce risk of spreading infection and will allow direct contact and interaction with patients located on a vaccination site, the role is eligible for a standard check.

    Current staff taking on additional or different duties

    Where NHS staff are being redeployed and will be taking on additional or different duties, employers will need to assess whether or not a new DBS check may be needed based on the role's responsibilities, and level of contact with patients. NHS Employers' DBS eligibility tool and scenario based examples helps employers determine whether a check is required and at what level.

    Recruiting from overseas 

    Where recruiting from overseas, there may be a continued requirement to obtain an overseas police check or certificate of good conduct. Employers will need to follow pre-existing guidance in regard to obtaining an overseas police check as outlined in the criminal record check standard.

    Wherever practically possible, employers should ask applicants to obtained an overseas police certificate from the relevant authority while they are in their residing country to avoid any unnecessary delays to recruitment. 

  • Employers should continue to seek online verification against the relevant professional register to confirm that the healthcare worker is registered to practise in the chosen profession. 

    Temporary registers have been created by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council and the Health and Care Professions Council to support the COVID-19 response. Individuals who have retired and returned, some nursing students and some overseas nationals may be able to enter the temporary register.  The individual has the same status as those on the standard statutory register. Employers will be able to check the temporary register in the same way as the statutory register. Further details about temporary registers can be found on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website

    Employers must have the consent of the health professional and their registration number to check their registration, license and fitness to practise. The check with the professional regulator will confirm that:

    • the applicant is actually the person registered with that regulatory body 
    • they are suitably qualified, skilled, trained and experienced and adhere to the code of practise for their profession
    • there are no restrictions to their registration that would affect their ability to undertake the duties of the role being offered
    • there are no pending investigations on their fitness to practise that would need to be considered.

    Where appointing individuals to unregulated roles, employers will need to make an appropriate risk-based assessment to the priority given to that qualification in the person specification, and the assurances that may need to be gained as part of the check process. 

  • Work health assessments remain a priority during the pandemic to ensure the health, safety and well-being of workers and patients. Employers should continue to follow pre-existing requirements as outlined in the Work Health Assessment Standard.

    Working with occupational health departments will be essential to provide proactive support and guidance to staff regardless of whether they are being newly appointed into the NHS, are being redeployed or are returning to the workforce under the retire/return scheme managed by NHS England and NHS Improvement. This will be even more important when considering reasonable adjustments or the redeployment of staff who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those with underlying health conditions and/or in at-risk groups. Occupational health screening for infectious diseases e.g. tuberculosis and blood-borne viruses must be carried out before commencing clinical work.

    In cases of redeployment, employers are advised to check what information is currently held about them on their personal systems such as ESR or NHS Smart Card, to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of health and DBS checks and core skill training. Trusts that are currently piloting the temporary COVID-19 digital staff passport should follow guidance on enabling staff movement which is available on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

    Our occupational health pages may be useful to refer to in regard to identifying and mitigating risks for staff, the management of infection controls and additional considerations for supporting people who are considered to be more vulnerable. Further information about immunisation requirements for healthcare workers can be found in The Green Book which can be found on the GOV.UK website.

    Guidance on the prevention of infectious diseases can also be found on the NICE website.

  • Seeking a reference continues to play an important part in an employer's overall assessment of an individual's suitability when recruiting to NHS positions. 

    As a minimum, employers should seek at least one reference from the individual’s current or previous employer either via email or over the phone. Permission should always be sought from the candidate before approaching their current employer.

    Where more than one reference can be practically obtained, as government restrictions ease, these should be obtained as outlined in the pre-existing NHS Employers pre-employment check standard.

    Where NHS staff are being redeployed to a different NHS organisation, employers should aim to seek verification from HR on what information may be readily available about the individual on personnel systems, such as ESR. 

    In all cases, information should be sufficient enough to enable the employer to check any gaps or inconsistencies between information provided and in the candidate's application and self-declaration forms obtained as part of the wider check process. 

    Where references are provided over the phone, employers should record a written account and ask the referee to confirm that this is an accurate reflection of the information they have provided. This information should be retained and stored. 

    Where it is genuinely impossible for a reference to be obtained, for example, if the individual’s current or last employer has been forced to close because of COVID-19, employers should base their recruitment decision on what information they can reasonably obtain as part of the interview and checking stages. Reasons for the recruitment decision and details of all efforts to obtain a reference should be recorded on file, this should also include any reasons as to why information could not be obtained.

  • Refreshed on a regular basis, these are answers to the most frequently asked questions by employers following the announcement of temporary pre-employment check requirements. 

    If your query is not covered in the sections below, please email us at employmentchecks@nhsemployers.org including the words 'COVID-19' in the subject bar.
     

    Compliance against the six check standards

    Q1. How have these arrangements been developed?

    The temporary arrangements have been developed in partnership with relevant bodies across the system, including the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Disclosure and Barring Service, NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission, to ensure what’s required continues to meet legal and regulatory requirements in ensuring safe patient care and services.

    Q2. Who do the temporary arrangements apply to?

    The temporary arrangements apply specifically where employers are recruiting additional staff to support or backfill during the COVID-19 emergency. This includes directly paid staff, temporary workers, those returning to practice (retirees/paid volunteers) and volunteers (unpaid). 

    All other recruitment that is not directly related to providing emergency support will need to checked in compliance with the pre-existing NHS employment check standards.

    Q3. When do the temporary arrangements cease?

    The temporary arrangements will continue for the duration of the pandemic emergency. We will work closely with the various bodies and employers to ensure normal checking procedures can be resumed as soon as is reasonably practical once the impact of the winter period can be better predicted. Updates will continue to be disseminated through the NHS Employers website and scheduled communications. 

    The Home Office has announced that temporary right to work check guidance will remain in place until 5 April 2022. Further information can be found on the gov.uk website

    Q4. Who has responsibility for obtaining pre-employment checks on temporary workers recruited through an agency? 

    Employers may pass responsibility for obtaining checks to recruitment agencies or other third-party staffing providers they may work with. The NHS organisation receiving the worker must make any check requirements expressly clear in any agreement it makes with an agency or third-party staffing provider. Regardless of any agreement, the NHS organisation responsible for the patient care or services being delivered retains overarching responsibility to ensure all temporary workers are suitable and safe to carry out the duties of any given role and measures to manage and monitor temporary workers should be agreed and implemented.

    Q5.  What checks are required for bank workers who may already hold a substantive role in the same organisation or in another NHS trust? 

    If individuals on an internal staff bank are called on to support the pandemic and they already hold a substantive position (either elsewhere within the same organisation or in another NHS trust) then the employing organisation may wish to check what assurances have already been obtained to avoid any unnecessary duplication of checks or clearances. For example, this may include information held on the electronic staff record (ESR) or other relevant personnel system. 

    Organisations who are currently working with NHS England and NHS Improvement in piloting the COVID-19 digital staff passport may also have agreements in place to share relevant information to help enable staff movement. In all cases, employers should be extra vigilant to ensure that any additional or new duties do not change the type or level of checks required or, where they do, appropriate checks are taken.

    Q6. What is the NHS staff passport? 

    A COVID-19 digital staff passport is currently being developed and tested by NHS England and NHS Improvement in conjunction with NHSX and a reference group of NHS HR leaders. The passport creates an embedded license to attend agreement and stores verified credentials securely on the staff member's smartphone. 

    The enabling staff movements toolkit and new passporting solution will help NHS organisations move staff safely, quickly and without unnecessarily duplicating check requirements or core skills and induction training. It is crucial the system is robustly tested to ensure it meets expectations and is safe to use for both employers and staff members. Once testing is complete, the passport is expected to be fully rolled out for all NHS organisations. Further updates on the staff passport will be made available on the NHS Employers website once we have clarification from NHS England and Improvement.  

    Q7. What checks do we need to undertake when appointing healthcare professionals through NHS England and NHS Improvements return to practice scheme?

    The type and level of checks required on retirees returning to practice will depend on the route they are appointed through.

    Those returning to the workforce under NHS England and NHS Improvement's returners scheme will have undergone a range of checks when they first expressed an interest to return. These checks will have obtained assurances that the individual is registered with the appropriate professional regulatory body, that there are no issues about their suitability and fitness and/or licence to practice, and that they have the necessary DBS clearances for the role they are being deployed to do. 

    A letter will have been issued by the relevant NHS England and NHS Improvement regional hub to confirm what checks and clearances have already been obtained. Where this can be presented, employers may accept this as assurance. Additional checks will only be required where there are any gaps in assurances gained.

    Individuals directly approached by the employing organisation will need to be checked in the usual way.

    In all cases, employers must take all necessary measures to assure themselves that the person presenting themselves is who they say they are, and clearances match and relate to that person. All assurances must be recorded and retained on file. 

    If the individual will only be required to work remotely (i.e. from home) then the verification of documents may be done via a video conferencing call as described in Q8 below. It must be recorded on file (e.g. ESR) that the check has been undertaken remotely.

    Q8. Do we need to see original documents to verify an applicant's identity, right to work and DBS checks? 

    We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office and DBS to ensure practical measures are adopted to ensure the safe checking of identity, right to work and DBS check applications during the pandemic.

    From 30 March 2020, provisions were put in place to enable employers to:

    • conduct checks as part of a video call
    • ask applicants/existing workers to send scanned documents, or a photo of documents for checking using email or a mobile app
    • record on file (eg ESR) that they have undertaken an "adjusted check undertaken on [date] due to COVID-19.

    The online checking process does not negate the need for employers to see and verify original documentation. Any requests to verify original documentation must be conducted at the earliest practical opportunity, for instance when the individual comes in for induction, training or on their first day, which ever is soonest.

    Employers must continue to meet the requirements outlined in the identity check standard on the NHS Employers website to ensure all measures are taken to prevent identity fraud. Further guidance on meeting compliance with Home Office right to work and DBS application requirements can be found on the respective sections of the Gov.uk website.

    We are currently in discussion with relevant bodies and employers as to whether the interim measure may be helpful to retain beyond COVID-19 as an effective way of speeding up recruitment processes and enhancing assurances gained. Further information will be made available on the NHS Employers website at the earliest opportunity.

    The Home Office has announced that temporary right to work check guidance will remain in place until 5 April 2022. Further information can be found on the gov.uk website.

    Using video conferencing for interviews

    Q1. Can we still carry out face-to-face interviews?

    Yes, face to face interviews may be conducted on the proviso that arrangements are fully compliant with the latest Government rules about social distancing. Employers must also be mindful that individuals may feel unsafe in meeting face to face during the pandemic or may be required to self-isolate or stay in quarantine when interviews are to take place, therefor an online interview will need to be offered to accommodate.

    Online interviews have also proved effective where recruiting from other geographical areas or overseas and where attending a face to face interview may be impractical or may lead to delaying the recruitment process unnecessarily.

    See guidance and a top tips resource in our section on using video conferencing to conduct interviews, which may be helpful in ensuring these run as smoothly and effectively as possible.

    Right to work checks

    Q1. Do we still need to seek original copies of a person’s proof of right to work?

    See Q8 under "compliance against the six check standards" above. 

    Employers must refer to Home Office guidance on the gov.uk website to ensure they continue to be compliant with any temporary measures and understand when these might cease as the pandemic evolves. 

    Q2. How can I keep up to date with temporary arrangements being introduced by the Home Office and what documentary assurances we may need to obtain?

    A number of changes have come in to play which will impact on overseas recruitment and what you may need to do either as part of the temporary pre-employment check arrangements or to enable you to retain healthcare workers who may have limited leave to remain. 

    Our section on overseas skilled supply provides the latest information about visa extensions and changes to the application process and includes information about arrangements for language and skills testing for overseas trained professionals entering the temporary professional registers.

    Q3. Following the Home Office decision to extend visas for certain professional roles, will there be functionality within ESR to record this?

    Yes, new fields to record EU pre and settled status were released by Electronic Staff Record (ESR) on 31 July. This functionality includes the ability to record EU settlement status using the following options: 

    • pre-settled
    • settled
    • unknown/not declared.

    HR teams will also be able to record the date status was issued by the Home Office, expiry date (for pre-settled status) as well as temporary leave to remain should the UK transition out of the EU without a deal. Further information about the new functionality can be found on the NHS Employers website.

    Q4. How can we continue to comply with employment check requirements when recruiting individuals from overseas who may need to go into quarantine when they enter the country?

    Ensuring compliance with the NHS employment check standards remains essential during the pandemic. The temporary measures introduced in March 2020 are intended to help facilitate some of the checks that might otherwise become problematic during this time, including where individuals may need to self-isolate or are coming into the country and who may need to go into quarantine during the recruitment process. 

    How to meet compliance against each of the six requirements is outlined in COVID-19 temporary pre-employment checks section on the NHS Employers website. In addition, we have provided guidance on:

    • Using online video conferencing
    • Online verification of documents as outlined in Q8 above, under the section on "compliance with the six check standards". 

    Criminal record checks

    Q1. Who can we obtain fast-track checks for?

    The free DBS fast-track check against the barred list(s) applies in England and Wales only. The check must only be obtained if the following criteria is met:

    • individuals are specifically being appointed to deliver pandemic-related treatment, care or services. Including individuals appointed to backfill where staff in those roles fall ill with pandemic-related illnesses or are required to self isolate
    • any such role would normally be eligible for an enhanced with barred list check. Including regulated healthcare professions and other roles which are not regulated, such as hospital porters transporting patients who have pandemic-related illnesses 
    • a full enhanced disclosure is obtained at the same time.

    For all other non-pandemic related recruitment, employers must obtain a DBS check through the normal route and usual fees will apply. This is to ensure the DBS can flex to give priority to support employers to safely meet workforce needs as the pandemic evolves.

    Once the fast-track check has been received, and it shows no barring relating to the individual concerned, employers may appoint them into a regulated activity with adults and/or children. Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to supervise and manage the individual until the full disclosure has been received.

    Further considerations may need to be made once the full enhanced disclosure has been received and employers must put appropriate measures in place to deal with any issues that may arise.

    Further information about eligibility and how to apply for fast track checks can be found on the GOV.UK website.

    Q2. Can we obtain a fast-track check for other roles that would normally be eligible for a standard or enhanced without barred list check?

    No. There is currently no equivalent fast-track check for roles that would normally only be eligible for a standard or enhanced without barred list check.

    Further information about different NHS roles and their eligibility for a DBS check can be found on the NHS Employers website.

    Q3. Can we accept a previously issued DBS check that has been obtained for another role?

    Employers have always had the ability to accept a DBS disclosure that has been obtained for another role.

    Many organisations already have local policies in place that require either three-yearly periodic DBS checks, or subscription to the DBS Update Service.

    Employers must take a risk-based approach when considering previously disclosed information and in determining whether a new check might be required.

    Where individuals are subscribed to the update service, employers may seek the individual’s permission to carry out an online check using this service instead of requiring a new DBS check.

    In all cases, if the new role requires a different type or level of clearances, then a new DBS check must always be obtained.

    Q4. We'd like to set up a volunteer group to work in the community, do we need to ensure our volunteers need a DBS check?

    The Disclosure and Barring Service has produced a useful factsheet outlining potential eligibility and safeguarding tips where setting up volunteer groups to work in the community. This can be found on the GOV.UK website.

    It is vital to remember that while volunteers can still provide care or help to a vulnerable person, they must avoid all non-essential contact and adhere to current social distancing restrictions. Full guidance on keeping safe during COVID-19 can be found on the GOV.UK website.

    Q5. Can fast-track checks be used to subscribe to the DBS Update Service?

    No. Applicants must not be advised to subscribe to the update service using a fast-track check. These checks should also not be added to an existing subscription. The DBS retains the right to de-link or cancel subscriptions, where a fast-track check has been added.

    Q6. If appointing military personnel, can we accept their military service record instead of a DBS check?

    Yes. If an applicant states that they are currently serving in the Armed Forces, then an employer can ask for and accept an extract from their military service record instead of requiring an overseas police check (if serving overseas) or a DBS check. This should disclose any convictions or cautions the individual may have been charged with while serving in the UK or any other country (where the offence would be considered the same in the UK). 
    If the expression of interest is from ex-military personnel, it is important to note the military service record will only be relevant up to the point they were in service. Employers should therefore take a risk-based approach to considering whether a DBS check may be required.

    The extract must be original and issued by the force they are serving in. Where carrying out checks remotely, verification of the certificate should be obtained remotely as per our temporary identity check guidelines. Employers may require individuals to present the original document at induction or training.

    Employers will need to be mindful that some criminal convictions and cautions that apply under military service law may not be regarded as such under civilian law, so will need to take  a proportionate approach when considering any such information. For instance:

    • Convictions and cautions relating to criminal conduct while serving in the Armed Forces would need to be considered in the same way as a criminal conviction or caution in a DBS check
    • Serious convictions for disciplinary offences (non-criminal conduct) are more likely to be specific to action or behaviours that may be a crime under military law but would not be considered as such in civilian life. Any such information should be treated differently to convictions and cautions and may be something employers consider as part of their overall assessment of suitability.  

    Further information about what constitutes as a disciplinary offence under military law can be found in schedule 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Armed Forces) Order 1984 (Recordable Services Offences) Act 2009 which can be found on the UKSI website

    Professional registration and qualification

    Q1. How can I check the temporary registers?

    Checks against the temporary registers should be obtained in the same way as checking the statutory registers - by going to the relevant professional regulatory body’s website.

    Further information about how the temporary registers are intended to work, how to check the registers and how this may impact on a professional's revalidation or continued professional development, can be found via the following links:

    Further information about how each of the temporary registers are intended to work can be found on our bringing staff back section.

    It is important to note that the temporary registers are time limited. Professional regulatory bodies retain the right to close them with little or no notice. Employers are advised to check the individual professional regulatory body websites to ensure that the temporary registers are still active. We will do our upmost to update employers on when temporary registers are likely to close so that any implications can be managed. 

    References and employment history

    Q1. Can we accept a reference from a personal email account?

    While some organisations are requiring staff to work remotely, this assumes that they will continue to have access to a work email address. References, wherever possible, should continue to be obtained through HR or personnel departments and be asked for and sent using a legitimate work email address. 

    We do, however, appreciate that in certain circumstances referees may genuinely only be able to respond to reference requests through their personal email account. For example. where they have been furloughed or their business/employer has been forced to close because of COVID-19. In these circumstances, employers may accept factual reference from a personal account but must ensure information matches with all other information obtained during the application, interview and checking process.