Rules around disclosure checking and safeguarding are changing all of the time, and one of the most recent changes happened in July 2018 when the government announced that they were changing the “disqualified by association” rules. It’s a minor but important part of the legislation, and might have an impact on many hundreds of people who want to get jobs which require an enhanced disclosure check.


What does “Disqualified by Association” mean?

Police forces across the UK keep lists of people whose crimes are so serious that they are banned – or disqualified – for ever applying for jobs working with vulnerable groups in the future. Most people recognise that these rules apply when working with children, but it could equally apply to the elderly, people with a disability, or indeed any group which is classed as vulnerable. Until recently, the disqualification extended to immediate family members too. Anyone living at the same address as the person who was disqualified was banned too, known as disqualified by association. This means someone could be barred from certain types of work because of the crimes of her husband, adult child or sibling.


Changes in the Law

In July 2018, the law changed to remove this “disqualification by association” from people who are applying for work in certain settings. People who were previously disqualified by association will now be allowed to apply for work in schools, hospitals, after-school clubs and other settings. They will still have to undergo DBS checking in their own right, and the decision on whether to employ the person or not will depend on what is shown on that disclosure form. If there is any evidence that the applicant was involved in any of the crimes which led to their relative’s disqualification, this could appear on a DBS form. Police make judgement calls based on the intelligence held on record. But the key point is that there’s no longer an automatic ban and each case will be considered on its merits.


Limits to Changes

This doesn’t mean however that everyone who was previously disqualified by association is now free to apply for any job they choose. There are still certain areas of work which are blocked to them. In the main, these are jobs which involve caring for people at home, such as being a childminder. Even if the disqualified person is away from home when the childminding or work is taking place, it’s still thought to be far too much of a risk to put children in a home where a disqualified person is resident.


Does This Affect Me?

If you’re disqualified by association, you’ll already be well aware of the fact. This change of legislation in England and Wales means you’re now free to apply for work requiring disclosure checking. Different legal systems mean that Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate requirements. You have no legal obligation to declare to an employer that you were previously disqualified, or that someone else in your house is on a disqualified list.