If you’ve recently applied for a position which requires DBS checking, then one of the main concerns many applicants have is what exactly will happen to the form when it is returned, and who in the company might have access to details listed on the form. Information shared on a DBS check (or on a PVG check in Scotland or an AccessNI check) falls under the Data Protection Act, and the obligations on employers are about to become even more restrictive.
It’s good practice for HR professionals only to ask for DBS checks once you’re through the interview stage and have been offered the job. Any offer letter will usually say that employment is pending references or a clean DBS check. Your employer will ask you to complete the DBS paperwork and provide them with your identity documents, but when your DBS form is issued in the post, it will be sent directly to your home address, not the address of your employer. This allows you to review the information stated on your DBS form – if any – before passing it to the HR department.
Processing and Storage
New Data Protection regulations mean that employers have to take even more care than ever over how they store and process potentially sensitive information that they hold. Employers usually ask to see the original DBS certificate when it arrives in the mail, and then give the original back for safekeeping at home. It is not standard practice for employers to hold original certificates, but they should have some way of recording when documents were seen. If this information is held on computer, it should be password protected, and if held in paper format, kept under lock and key. Employers also have an obligation to make sure that your personal information isn’t available to people who don’t need to see it; although the HR team might have a need to see your DBS records or home contact details, this sort of data shouldn’t be available to members of staff who are working in other parts of the business. Stopping DBS and other personal data being accessed inappropriately might mean something as simple as not leaving original documents on a desk while out at lunch or having a policy which forbids sharing of log-on names and passwords between colleagues.
If Something Shows Up
If you require your DBS for a job working with children or vulnerable adults, the certificate will show a greater level of detail than basic checks. People who have a criminal record are understandably wary about sharing the details with all and sundry, even if all that is shown are minor convictions in the distant past. Usually, this will be raised during the interview process so it is rare that information on DBS comes as a surprise. It is the responsibility of the HR team to limit the discussion about certificate information only to the people making the recruitment decision. What is shown on someone’s DBS check should never become a matter of office chatter.