Self-employment is on the rise, and a recent survey of young people aged between 16 and 21 indicate that more than 20% expect to spend some time working for themselves in the future. Many people have a foot in both camps, perhaps by working in an employed job part time, and getting extra money from freelance or casual employment. This form of flexible working is increasingly popular and has its own drawbacks and advantages. One of the main areas of confusion is about the process for disclosure checks for people who are self-employed.


Employed and Self-Employed?

It’s quite possible that there’s a scenario whereby someone works part time as a nurse or healthcare assistant and wants to pick up extra work as a sports or swimming coach. If you have an enhanced disclosure for your employed position, can’t you just use it for your self-employed job too? Well, the answer’s complex. DBS checks are generally not transferrable, unless you’re applying to do freelance work with your main employer. Depending on the role, you might need a DBS check at all – most office and shop roles are exempt from DBS checks, for example. A more common scenario is that workers need a separate DBS check for each position, but there are ways round this.


Basic DBS For Self-Employed

If you are being employed to do a job, the employer will then decide what to do about DBS checks, and they will determine whether the job you will be doing requires it. If you are freelance or self-employed, you might still be able to get a more detailed level of DBS check if there is a further umbrella body. This covers organisations such as small sports clubs, which may be affiliated to larger national bodies.

If however none of that applies, the only type of disclosure check which is open to most self-employed people is a basic disclosure check. As the name suggests, this is the least detailed level of check which is currently done in the UK. A basic disclosure check will show your current, unspent crimes and cautions only. The rules about how long it takes for a conviction or caution to be considered spent depends on the type of offence and how old you were at the time. There is lots of advice online about calculating “spent” periods.

Getting a DBS check is a straightforward process, and self-employed people can apply at any time. All you need is some time to log onto the government website and complete your information. Applicants will also have to verify their identity using one of the government’s verification services which can be accessed through the same website. Once you have your certificate, it can serve as a “character reference” for prospective clients. It’s a valuable piece of paper for anyone thinking of setting up as a cleaner, or hairdresser going into people’s houses to deliver their service. As there is no expiry date on DBS checks, you won’t have to renew it for another three to five years.