The Covid 19 pandemic has changed working patterns for many of us, prompting decisions about changes of job, perhaps setting up your own business, or moving into the countryside for a simpler life. Other people have been pushed into making changes by redundancy or companies shutting down. Whatever the reason for you being back on the market and looking for a job, you may find lots has changed since the last time you went job hunting. Online application and interviews over Zoom are just the start of the changes; there are lots of other changes too. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for your passport to prove you have the right to live and work in the UK. Depending on the type of work, you may also be asked to get a DBS check. This isn’t as scary as it might sound, and there’s lots of help to navigate through the process.


Does Everyone Need a DBS Check?

The short answer to this is no. A disclosure check, also known as a DBS check, or a criminal records check is only a legal requirement for positions which either involve a degree of financial responsibility or working with vulnerable groups such as patients in hospital or children. These jobs are also sometimes known as “regulated activity”. If you are applying for a job which falls into this category, then you have no choice over whether or not to get a DBS check. There is another type of DBS check, which reveals less detail about your record, and can be requested for any reason. This is a basic DBS check. Employers can decide for themselves whether to ask all staff to get a basic DBS check, and if you’re running your own business, you can apply for a check on yourself. But not employers do this – there is cost, and time delay involved in obtaining certificates, and many employers just take applicants at their word when they say they have no criminal past.


Process for Getting a DBS Check

Whatever your reason to get a DBS check, the process is the same. Most employers have moved to an online system for getting DBS certificates for their staff and this is certainly easier than old-fashioned paper forms. Be aware that terminology around criminal record checks has changed several times over the years, so if you hear people talking about a CRB application, or a PVG application in Scotland, they are talking about the same thing. There are three main stages in getting your DBS check, and these apply to all levels of check, and whatever the reason for the check.

Application – the first stage in getting your disclosure check is to fill the form in. The form isn’t complex and isn’t designed to catch you out. You will have to fill in basic personal details like your full name, date of birth, address history over the last five years, contact details etc. Take your time and get clarification from the DBS if you’re not sure what to put in each box of the form. Once you’re happy with everything on your form, pay the fee if one applies, and hit submit.

Identity – before your application goes to the police for checking, your employer has to make sure that the details you’ve given on your form are true and belong to you, not someone whose identity you’ve assumed. So, the next part of the process is gathering together a range of identity documents like passport, birth certificate, driving licence, bank statements or utility bills. There is a list of all the documents which can be accepted on the government website.

Checking – after you have verified your identity, the DBS will send your form to the relevant police forces for checking. They will search their databases looking at what information they have which matches the information you’ve put on your form. There may very well be nothing at all – the DBS isn’t interested in things like parking tickets and speeding points. If you do have a criminal record, then there is an additional process called filtering. This means that an expert at the Police looks at the criminal record and assesses it against the job being applied for. They may decide to tell the employer about the information held, but they may decide to keep it confidential. Finally, a certificate is produced and sent out to the applicant in the post.


Paying for a DBS Check

There are fees associated with getting a DBS certificate. In many cases, your employer will absorb the cost, but may ask you to pay up front and claim it back. If you are a volunteer, you get your DBS check free of charge in return for your voluntary work. Some employers will ask employees to pay the cost themselves, and if you’re self-employed you’ll need a debit or credit card to make the payment.