Article

Temporary pre-employment checks

Temporary pre-employment check guidance issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

15 September 2022

In this section we look at the temporary pre-employment check measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these have now come to an end, will be coming to an end soon, or have been incorporated into permanent arrangements. If you have any questions regarding the rolling back of the temporary measures, please email employmentchecks@nhsemployers.org.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, it was recognised that employers would need to engage increased numbers of workers to support services under pressure, at very short notice. And would 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. 

 

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, measures were introduced to allow for the remote checking of a person’s identity. These measures has been made a permanent arrangement in the NHS Employment Check Standards and employers can continue to check the identity of candidates remotely, providing original documentation is seen and validated in-person as soon as practically possible (this could be when the individual first takes up the position or are required to undertake induction or other type of training, whichever is sooner).   

    This aligns with guidance issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which also allows for remote identity checks for DBS processing purposes (physical document check route) providing original documentation is checked in person when their employment commences.  

    For further information about identity check requirements, including a list of recommended forms of identity, see the NHS Identity Checks Standard.  

    Please note, we are working with key stakeholders to determine possible alignment of the NHS Employment Check Standards with digital identity checks and will keep employers informed of progress. 

  • On 30 March 2020, the Home Office introduced temporary measures to allow employers to conduct right to work checks remotely. These measures end on 30 September 2022 (inclusive). 

    After this date, employers must check right to work in one of three ways: 

    • an online Home Office check 

    • a manual check 

    • using an identity service provider (IDSP) that offers Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT).

    Should an employer choose to use an IDSP, you will need to become familiar with the new regulations, and to ensure that staff involved in arranging identity and right to work checks have the necessary training on for example, what information they must obtain from the third party to confirm a candidate’s identity; what the information can be used for; and what other requirements they still need to fulfil to establish eligibility to work. 

    A list of certified providers is available on the gov.uk website and is kept up-to-date as new certifications take place. Employers interested in procuring a certified provider should engage directly with those providers.  

    Please note, as it currently stands a digital identity check does not negate the need for employers to see, verify and record original documents (in the combinations required) in person when the individual first takes up the position or is required to undertake induction or other type of training, whichever is sooner. We are working with key stakeholders to determine possible alignment of the NHS Employment Check Standards with digital identity checks and will keep employers informed of progress.  

    For further information about right to work check requirements see the NHS Right to Work Checks Standard

  • As of 27 March 2020, the DBS introduced measures to enable employers to process DBS check applications in advance of seeing original identity documentation. This remains the case, employers can continue to conduct documentary verification remotely, providing that original documents are seen and verified in person when the individual first commences work. These measures are detailed in DBS guidance.  

    An external digital identity check is now also an alternative way of verifying the identity of an applicant for a DBS check. It will involve the employer providing an applicant’s details to their chosen supplier, who will compare the data you have obtained from the applicant against a range of independent, external data sources. Digital identity for a DBS check must be undertaken by certified identity service providers (IDSPs). A list of certified providers is available on the gov.uk website and is kept up to date as new certifications take place. Employers interested in procuring a certified provider should engage directly with those providers.  

    Please note, as it currently stands for the purposes of NHS identity checking, a digital identity check does not negate the need for employers to see, verify and record original documents (in the combinations required) in person when the individual first takes up the position or are required to undertake induction or other type of training, whichever is sooner. We are working with key stakeholders to determine possible alignment of the NHS Employment Check Standards with digital identity checks and will keep employers informed of progress.  

    Full guidance on DBS identity checking measures can be found on the gov.uk website and in the NHS Identity Check Standard.  

    Free-of-charge and fast-track DBS checks 

    Free-of-charge and fast-track DBS checks, established at the start of the pandemic to help employers recruit more quickly, we expect will remain in place until at least the end of March 2023 (subject to review). However, usage of this service should be the exception to the rule, and where there is an explicit and demonstrable link to the legal eligibility criteria. The DBS will be working with all registered bodies to ensure that checks submitted via the free service route are eligible. 

    There is now a reasonable expectation that the demand for checks submitted via the DBS free-of-charge and fast-track barred list service should drop. Following the removal of all COVID-19-related restrictions, recruiting to backfill roles that are explicitly linked to the virus (for example, an existing member of staff is unable to work or has left their employment due to COVID-19-related illness or a period of self-isolation) should be much reduced in comparison to that seen during the height of the pandemic.  

    Employers should now start to consider submitting applications for DBS checks via the normal chargeable route.  

    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 eligibility and how to apply for a free and 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. 

    Staff supporting the vaccination programme in a school setting - these roles may involve assessing if the child is eligible for the vaccine, administering the vaccine, providing support to patients pre and post vaccine and keeping records of the vaccination. As the work is being conducted in a school, which is a specified place under regulated activity guidance by the Department for Education, these staff are eligible for an enhanced with children’s barred list check only. 

  • Employers should follow pre-existing requirements as outlined in the Professional Registration and Qualification Checks Standard to seek online verification against the relevant professional register to confirm that the healthcare worker is registered to practise in the chosen profession.  

    The Health and Social Care Secretary has announced that temporary emergency registers for healthcare professionals will remain open over for a further two years. The registers were originally introduced as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and had been scheduled to close on 30 September 2022, but this time has now been extended. Read our latest news page for more information. 

  • Employers should follow pre-existing requirements as outlined in the Work Health Assessment Standard

  • Employers should follow pre-existing requirements as outlined in the Employment History and Reference Checks Standard to obtain references to validate a period of three consecutive years of continuous employment or training immediately prior to the application being made.  

    There may be several genuine reasons as to why an applicant cannot provide you with a referee from a previous employer. For example, this may be because the individual has never worked before, or they have not worked for some considerable time, or their previous employer has ceased trading. Where limited references are available, the decision to appoint must be based on what the applicant can reasonably provide to support their application. 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. 

  • If you require further information or have any questions regarding the rolling back of the temporary measures, please email employmentchecks@nhsemployers.org