More young people than ever are staying at school and college until they are 18, and leaving school at 16 and walking straight into your first full-time job is now relatively unusual. But that’s not to say that under 18s don’t work at all. Many have a part-time job around their school or college hours, volunteer with sports clubs, or are on an apprenticeship which involves some time at work and some time in the classroom. Getting a DBS check can be tricky for under 18s, but it’s not something that employers can ignore.


DBS and the definition of “Children”

The main confusion around DBS checks for young people boils down to the way the DBS defines a child. Their legal position is that a child is anyone under the age of 18 is a child. People who are working with children in many situations require a DBS check, so a 16- or 17-year-old who is working with other young people of the same age as a sports coach, or as an apprentice in a hospital or school, will need a DBS check to legally carry out that sort of work. But the colleagues of the young person concerned do not need to be DBS checked to work alongside them.


Getting a DBS Check Under 18

The good news if you are a young person looking for a job or apprenticeship is that it is the employer who has the responsibility of working out who needs a DBS check and who doesn’t. There’s no need for a DBS check in some of the most popular sectors for part time jobs, such as retail and hospitality. DBS checks are mainly going to affect young people who want to work in healthcare, or in settings such as nurseries or after-school clubs.

There is no separate process for a DBS check for people under 18, who will have to complete the same form and provide the same identification as anyone else. Most employers will be happy to guide someone through application if they haven’t been through the process before, and there is also help available from the DBS website and helpline. As with anything which involves filling in forms, take the time to read through the form before starting to complete it, and get advice if you are unsure.


Identification for Young People

The main problem encountered with DBS checks for young people is the requirement to provide a range of documents showing their name and postal address. Many young people of this age are still living at home with their parents and don’t have utility bills or paperwork from the Benefits agency in their own name. Similarly, many will have opted to receive bank statements or mobile phone bills online. There are ways around this, and if someone has a passport and a driving licence – even if just a provisional – they should be able to meet the requirements for the checks. The DBS can help with working out which combination of documents can be used if there is any confusion.