Despite the Brexit process being well underway, the UK government has recognised that we need workers from the rest of the EU and further afield to work in our health services, care homes and other areas of the economy. Workers from overseas are entitled to the same rights as workers from the UK, so must be paid at least minimum wage, have the same holidays, pension rights and so on. Employers also have the same obligations to check that their recently arrived workers from overseas have nothing in their criminal records which should prevent them from working with vulnerable adults or children. But how do you check the records of someone who has been in the UK for a very short time only?

DBS, Disclosure Scotland and AccessNI

Deciding how to check a new worker from outside the UK will depend how long they have lived here. People who have been in the UK for more than 5 years can be treated as a UK resident, and should undergo checking with the relevant body in the normal way. Applicants give their name, personal details, address and show documents to prove their identity and then have those details checked against the police databases. A certificate will then be issued stating whether or not they have a criminal record in the UK.

Recent Arrivals

When it comes to workers who have only been in the UK a short time, the process is far more complicated and varies depending on what country the applicant comes from. What is usually required is a “Certificate of Good Character” or a criminal records check from the Police authorities in the applicant’s home country. Detailed guidance is available on the Home Office website about the process required by each country. Having checks done overseas always takes longer than dealing with the UK authorities. Online applications are often not available, original documents have to be sent through the post, and often it is the applicant who has to manage the process, not the employer. Some people coming to work in the UK are prepared and have done all this before arriving, but if not, it could take weeks or months to have a certificate issued. Also remember to factor in translation costs.

Implications for Employers and Workers

Workers planning to move to the UK to work might find it very useful to get one of these certificates of good character before leaving their home country to bring with them, even if they are not intending to go into a role which requires it. The outlay is minimal, and it’s much easier to organise locally than from the UK. Employers recruiting from Europe or further afield into roles which require disclosure checking should also bear in mind the issues with checking foreign workers and start the process as soon as the job offer has been made. It is important to safeguard vulnerable groups by making sure checks are carried out properly, so use the DBS helpline to check on procedure and requirements if you are unsure.