There are just under 5 million people self-employed in the UK. The number of people who are self-employed has been rising steadily over recent years and is now around 15% of the UK working population. Being self-employed, freelance or working as a contractor offers a huge number of benefits in terms of flexibility, but does come with some complications too. One of the main issues which causes confusion is what self-employed people can and cannot do in terms of police records checks.


Basic DBS Checks

Anyone can apply for a DBS check, at any time, for any reason. So as a self-employed person in any industry, you are also free to apply for this sort of check. A basic DBS check will just list your current, unexpired criminal convictions and cautions, and is not as detailed as the other sorts of checks available. However, it’s a decent starting point when proving you are a decent and upstanding individual who isn’t going to pose a risk to a home when going in to clean, or when taking the family dog out for a walk.


Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks

The picture is a bit more complicated when it comes to standard and enhanced disclosure checks, which have a greater level of detail. Individuals can’t apply for these sorts of checks on themselves. They can only be obtained through an employer, or through an approved umbrella body. If you’re self-employed, there won’t be an employer to ask. You may however be able to apply for an enhanced or standard disclosure through an umbrella body, but this will depend on the type of work you are doing.


Applying Through a Third Party

People who are self-employed running their own dance school, holiday football camps or similar might be able to get an enhanced disclosure through other means. Many of these types of small, independent clubs are part of a larger organisation, such as the FA for football, or one of the national sporting organisations. Joining up with one of these bodies will give access to enhanced disclosure checks too. But there might be other costs of joining such as membership fees and insurance, as well as the costs of the DBS checks. Some self-employed people may think it’s just not worth the expense and hassle, and take other steps to deal with child protection issues.


Applying for a DBS Check

If you’re self-employed, then the process of applying for a DBS check is the same as for everyone else. Third parties and umbrella bodies will happily give guidance on how to apply for DBS and help troubleshoot any issues which you might run up against. A DBS check shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing when it comes to safeguarding and child protection though. Parents won’t just ask about your certificate, they will expect you to have thought about what you can do to protect their children. It’s usually best to have written procedures outlining how you intend to run your business. It’s also a good idea to investigate whether you need professional indemnity insurance.