In most cases, employers fund the cost of disclosure checks for their workers. But there is no law around this, and companies don’t have to fund the cost of the test. Many organisations see asking employees to fund the costs of their own checks as a way of saving money. But this cost-cutting is something associated with small businesses struggling to make ends meet surely? It’s therefore a bit of a surprise to find that many people working for the UK’s biggest employer, the NHS, are being asked to fund their own disclosure checks.


Paying To Work

A study by the BBC in 2019 found that around 10% of NHS job adverts stated that the applicant would have to fund their own DBS check. Although 10% doesn’t sound like a lot, the sheer number of people who work for the NHS means that these rules affect large numbers of people. It’s not just nurses and doctors who need DBS checks either, most NHS workers will need either a standard or enhanced disclosure check. Enhanced disclosure checks apply mostly to those having direct contact with patients, including cleaners, porters or auxiliary staff. Office staff or people working in laboratories who don’t deal directly with parents usually only need a standard check.


High Turnover Jobs

Defending the practice of asking workers to pay for their own DBS checks, some NHS trusts highlighted the fact that in areas of the NHS with a high staff turnover, the cost of running new DBS checks for each employee can be upwards of £70,000 per year. At a time of stretched budgets, this is not a cost which the NHS can afford to absorb. The NHS also pointed out that many other workers in the NHS have to pay additional costs such as registration fees for professional bodies, so there should be no difference with DBS checks.


Update Service

One way of getting round the issue of constantly paying out for a new DBS check every time you change employer or move between different NHS trusts is to enrol for the DBS update scheme. There is an annual fee – currently £13 – for being a member of Update, but once enrolled you can access your DBS information online whenever you need to. Subscribers can also give access to employers to access the information too. It’s certainly the perfect solution for anyone who find themselves repeatedly out of pocket funding several DBS checks over the course of a year.


Read the Job Adverts Carefully

Not all NHS trusts charge for DBS checks. If employees are expected to fund their own checks then this should be clearly stated on the recruitment advert. Usually, the checks will only start after a job offer is made and accepted. If you’re a nurse who works across several trusts or a care home worker who moves jobs frequently, then consider enrolling in Update – it will save you money in the long run.