It’s a rite of passage for many British teenagers – spending a week or two working in a local company to get a feel for the world of work and make some contacts which could help them in their future career. Work experience is usually organised between parents, schools and the young people themselves, and usually no payment changes hands. It’s a system which works well, but there are often worries about keeping on the right side of legislation designed to protect children and vulnerable adults. If a teenager under the age of 18 is doing work experience, do the other people in the office need to be DBS checked? And what about teens doing their work experience in a hospital or school, should they also be checked? Schools and colleges come up against these issues regularly, and it is often simple to figure out what should happen in your child’s case.

Work Experience for Under 16s

A company taking on a young person for work experience before they reach the age of 16 might need to run DBS checks on the people who will be working closely with the young person. There is no law or hard and fast rule and the decision whether to DBS check or not will be made by the child’s school. The school will take into account things like the length of the work experience, the type of work, the office or work environment and whether the young person will ever be left on their own with the other employees.

Work Experience Between 16 and 18

Government guidance is clearer when it comes to the issue of whether people should be DBS checked in order to supervise work experience for people aged 16 to 18 – it’s not necessary. In many organisations there are likely to be other employees or apprentices who are of a similar age to a work experience student, and larger organisations may have policies regarding the treatment of young people working there.

DBS For Work Experience in Care, Schools or Healthcare

A more problematic situation arises when someone under the age of 18 wants to do their work experience with children in a school or working in a care home or hospital. The current law does not allow DBS checks to be carried out on people under the age of 16 in any situation, irrespective of the setting where they are doing their work experience. For students aged between 16 and 18, they might require a DBS check depending on how long their work experience lasts for and the type of work they will be doing. If work experience is arranged at short notice there may not be time to run a full DBS check on work experience students. Many organisations get round the requirement for DBS checking by limiting the type of work they allow their work experience students to do, making sure they are never unaccompanied and are paired up with a senior member of staff who has been thoroughly checked.