Gone are the days when housing associations and local Councils had their own team of maintenance people, responsible for both minor repairs and major building work in their properties. The number of Council properties has dwindled over the years, and many housing associations only manage a few dozen properties. Maintenance and repairs are still provided for tenants, but work is usually done by third party contractors – plumbers, electricians and joiners who have their own businesses and work for other clients too. Housing Associations and Councils have to do their best to make sure the companies they are using are reputable and do good quality work, but do their workers have to be DBS checked too?
This isn’t as simple a question to answer as it might first appear. Whether a contractor needs to be DBS checked will depend very much on the type of accommodation which the housing association is providing. A housing association which is providing family homes will not legally be allowed to ask contractors for a DBS check, in the same was as any other tenant or homeowner can’t ask for their plumber or carpet fitter to be DBS checked. There is an important difference though when the housing association is dealing with supported accommodation. This means housing which is provided for people who are very elderly, have learning difficulties, mental health problems or other types of disabilities. These people fall into the category of “vulnerable adult”, and therefore anyone entering their home in a professional capacity to fix a boiler or replace a dripping tap should have an Enhanced Disclosure check to make sure that they are appropriate to be around vulnerable people.
Practicalities for Employers
If you’re the owner of a plumbing business trying to land a potentially lucrative contract with a housing association, then what do you need to do about police checking? Firstly, you’ll have to wait until the contract is awarded to start the DBS checking process, as you can’t carry out DBS checks when they’re not required by law. It’s probably not practical to check everyone working for your organisation, so draw up a list of people you’d like to check, making sure you’re covering all trades and leaving capacity to be able to cover for holidays and illness. Ensure that everyone working in your office is aware of who is DBS checked and who isn’t, and plan their workload accordingly.
Contractors with Criminal Records
With around 1 in 4 UK adults having some sort of criminal record, it’s entirely possible that you have people working for you who have had minor brushes with the law in their youth and have turned over a new leaf. They may well be concerned about what will be disclosed during police checking. Although an Enhanced Disclosure will show all previous convictions and cautions, it’s up to the employer to look at the information and make a decision. For example, a minor conviction for assault as a teenager may not raise any worries, whereas a long list of fraud or theft offences definitely will.