Getting DBS Checks Right

Getting a DBS check is the only way to know if potential hotel employees have a criminal record. But which check you will need depends on the type of business you operate. Michelle Mellor of Chefs Jobs UK and Personnel Checks explains what employers need to know about the often complex world of criminal record checks and what the benefits of undertaking them can mean to the hotel industry.

In 2012 the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was formed by the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The DBS enables employers to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying Individuals who may be unsuitable for certain work and provides wider access to criminal record information.

While it is illegal to knowingly employ an individual working in certain positions, because they are barred from working in such roles, employers can also be deemed to be in breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act if they take too draconian an approach to the results of a check.

Overall there are four types of criminal background checks available to employers:
• Basic Disclosure (Police Act Disclosure)
• Standard DBS check
• Enhanced DBS check
• Enhanced DBS check including Barred List.

The Basic Disclosure, searches only for Unspent Convictions and is applicable to any position and so is the most suitable check used by employers when recruiting and appointing hospitality staff. The Basic Disclosure is used regularly for roles across the industry such as room attendants, bar staff handling cash, night porters, key holders and spa staff.

The Standard DBS check is primarily for positions of responsibility and mainly applies to the financial services and legal professions and so wouldn’t really apply to the hospitality industry.

Enhanced DBS checks are for positions where activities such as teaching, training, supervising or caring for children and adults occur. Alongside cautions, warnings, reprimands and convictions, the Enhanced DBS Check also has a section where the applicant’s local police force can add any further notes they deem relevant from their files such as information that has not led to a criminal conviction but may indicate a relevancy to the position the applicant has applied for.

Enhanced with Barred List checks cover the same areas as the Enhanced DBS Check but will also check to see if the applicant is on the Children or Adults Barred List (a list of the names of individuals that are barred by law from working with children or adults).

The main cause for confusion with DBS checks for caterers occurs when the employer is presented with a certificate disclosing criminal activity.

Whilst a clear result would indicate that there is no criminal record to worry about, an unclear check can be a little more ambiguous.

Should a certificate present a recent, relevant offence, then the applicant can be deemed unsuitable for employment. But if, for example, the check presents a ten year old conviction for drink-driving, it is down to the employer to make a sound recruitment decision based on whether the conviction is relevant to the position applied for.

The two factors to consider here are relevancy and time. To avoid an appeal under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, an employer should make a fair judgement based on the relevancy of the offence and also the time since the offence occurred.

In the general hospitality industry, the Basic Disclosure is the most suitable level of check but where catering & hospitality employees are working within schools or care homes, an Enhanced DBS check without the barred list may be required.

For example, a chef working in the education or care sectors would need to be cleared at Enhanced Level, whereas a bar attendant handling cash, or a room attendant in a position of trust, would qualify for the Basic Disclosure. Overall, a common sense approach must be applied, balancing out fairness to the applicant against the security of the employers’ business, other employees and customers.

Michelle Mellor is director of Chefs Jobs UK, a national chef recruitment business providing tailor-made, high quality, temporary and permanent recruitment solutions for the hospitality industry. With offices in Lancashire and London, it operates nationally recruiting chefs at all levels.
Chefs Jobs UK is part of the Cummins Mellor Group which also includes Personnel Checks, a registered Umbrella Body for the DBS, helping organisations on a national basis to process DBS checks for their employees.

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