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Rise of the upfront scam fee

Covid-19 has left a scarcity of employment around the country. Many people have been furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic. As a result, there has been a massive increase in upfront fee scams. Many warnings have been sent out to job seekers around the U.K to be careful about such scams, as they could end up losing lots of money.

What is the upfront fee scam?

The upfront fee scam involves money taken from you for something else to happen. Typical examples are spam emails stating you’ve won the lottery in a foreign country or a long lost relative has died and left you a large sum of money behind. The catch of such scams is to send money to the notifier so that the funds can be released to you.

The upfront fee scam is very much similar to this. When browsing for a job, applicants often come across an advert notifying them of a remarkable opportunity. At first, it seems like a life-changing experience; however, once they’ve applied, they need to pay a processing fee. If not a processing fee, a registration fee or some fee, to get their dream role. However, once the money gets sent, the job fails to exist.

Farm work and DBS checks

A significant example of this scam was during the pandemic many applicants were trying to apply to a company which offered farm work. Due to COVID-19, less agricultural workers were able to come to the U.K from abroad leaving a major shortage in fruit and vegetable pickers in the U.K.

Therefore people who were furloughed, school leavers and university students were encouraged to sign up to partake in farm work. There was even a website set up known as Pick For Britain showcasing many openings matching farmers with volunteers in the local area, free of charge.

Joining the bandwagon, other recruitment companies in the U.K decided to take part in this scheme. Their method has involved headhunting sixth form students and young people, offering them work. However, not every recruiter have been transparent in their way of recruiting.

One sixth form student mentioned she registered for farm work through an online portal. Once registered, the agency told her she would have to pay a fee of $58 first for an enhanced DBS check. However, to undergo this type of manual labour, criminal records are not required.

An enhanced DBS check is only needed if a person is working with young children or vulnerable adults. This type of scam exposes the vulnerable who do not know fully about the DBS system.

Paying for your DBS check

One of the primary reasons why this type of scam works is because they have some element of truth in them. Sometimes, workers in industries are required to pay for their DBS check. One of the most common sectors, which does this is the care sector.

Whereas some employers may ask you to pay and they will refund the fee in your first payment. It’s important to know that this is fully legal and not a scam. However, whatever role you apply for, make sure you need a DBS check for that role, and you do not need to pay an excessive amount to process.

Do lockdown offences affect DBS checks?

Alarmingly, at the end of April 2020, the U.K government had recorded over 9000 fines concerning lockdown. The majority related to people breaking the rules of lockdown. However, as soon as the restrictions slowly got lifted, police found themselves subject to stopping large gatherings and sent many fines.

Such individuals who found themselves subject to a fine started to worry. As even though the penalty was not an arrest, individuals couldn’t help but wonder if it would appear on a future DBS check?

Fixed Penalty System

In the lockdown, the police gave fines under the fixed penalty system. This is a system, which gives police a reason to provide an instant fine, preventing them from arresting, questioning, charging or taking that person to court. The reason behind this is that it’s a simple and easy way to deal with small criminals.

Similarly, these types of penalties are often used by the police to fine people for dropping litter in public places or breaking local laws. Typically, these are minor issues, and if paid, they’re not treated by the police as a criminal matter.

What details does a fixed penalty record?

A fixed penalty involves basic details taken by the police. They do this to become aware of the repeat offenders breaking the local laws. Once a local law is broken like lockdown when it’s broken again, the fine of the fixed penalty increases.

Similarly, the only way police can know who is a repeat offender is by seeing previous fines. This process proves concerning for some people, as they worry their name could be on the system.

Fines and enhanced DBS checks

While there are many different types of DBS checks, an enhanced DBS check is the most thorough form of a check in the U.K. This check displays a large amount of information, including current convictions and previous cautions.

The police also have the right to share any information on your file, which they deem relevant. Such information could involve older convictions which are under other circumstances or previous fines that are under the fixed penalty scheme.

Often, the police undergo a screening process which allows them to make the decision what to disclose on a DBS check. Usually, they look at the type of offence or intelligence and the applied job.

The majority of the time, it is rare that a fixed penalty will be relevant. However, if there are multiple fixed penalties within a short time frame, the police may decide to disclose it.

Government stressed to modify NHS “Pay to Work”

What springs to your mind when you think of front line workers in the U.K.? One area of the front line that might arise is the wonderful workers of the NHS.

2020 has been a year which has made us gain more respect for the risk-taking staff of the NHS. What may surprise you though, is that before any new employees can begin to work for them, they’re handed a bill, before they enter any NHS premises.

Reports have circulated that the cost of a bill to several NHS staff on lower wages can total up to a full day’s wages! Such a scheme is otherwise known as the “Pay to Work” scheme. However, recently, it’s been changed a great deal. Why have the rules of the pay to work been changed?

DBS checks within the NHS

Any employee who works for the NHS has to undergo a disclosure and barring check (DBS check) before getting the job. This check involves reviewing an applicants criminal record and checks to see if there are any convictions or cautions, which would be a cause for concern in their new job role. Depending on the role, there are different levels of DBS check, and all of them require a fee.

If an NHS role is patient-centred such as porters, nurses, cleaning staff or anything else, they will require an enhanced DBS check. However, if the role involves being behind the scenes such as in a back office, they will need a standard DBS check. In particular, this type of check is for people who are working solely in laboratories or administration roles.

Do employers pay for the DBS check?

The majority of the time within the NHS, employers will fund the DBS check. However, employers do this out of the greater good; there’s no mandatory requirement by the law, forcing them to do this.

Sometimes, there are NHS trusts who will make applicants pay, to save money whenever they can within their trust. Similarly, if this is the case some refund the fees to the applicant once they’ve received their first payslip.

During COVID-19, the British government decided to temporarily make a change to waiver the fees for all applicants working within social care or the NHS. The reason behind this was to allow quicker transition of applicants into new roles and keep the NHS working to fill the capacity to deal with the crisis. However, once the pandemic ends, it’ll be up to the NHS to review the cost themselves or charge the applicants.

Overseas NHS Applicants

Every year, the situation becomes more complicated for many health professionals travelling to the U.K. from foreign shores. A DBS check would serve no purpose on these professionals, as the check only retrieves U.K. records.

Therefore, overseas applicants have to submit their own countries version of a DBS check. Most of the time, this is known as a certificate or something similar. However, depending on the applicants country, fees can vary and are not waived by the British government. As a result, for the foreseeable future, overseas applicants will have to pay for their certificate and the costs to arrive.

Can I get my own DBS check?

Initially, when DBS first launched in the U.K, its purpose was to serve as a criminal record checking service. In particular, it was to keep vulnerable individuals safe in the workplace and other areas from criminals.

As soon as this launched, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed. However, since its first launch, the system has changed, and that has involved you being able to request your DBS check.

Requesting my DBS check

In the U.K, you can’t request a DBS check on others you can only ask for yourself. To do this, you have to go through a verification process through a government portal.

This procedure prevents you from checking up on other people such as relatives or friends, without them knowing. Moreover, the DBS is stringent in checks for fraud; therefore if you want your certificate, we suggest not to risk checking on others.

Limited DBS check

If you’re requesting a check on yourself, you will only be able to get a basic check. This check highlights any cautions or convictions you’ve been held accountable. One of the significant factors of a conviction showing up is the type of conviction and the age you were convicted.

If you’re unsure if yours may show up, you can research this online.

The other two forms of DBS check, you cannot apply. The standard and enhanced DBS are more thorough, which can show older convictions and cautions. Further to this, you can only get these types of checks if a potential employer has requested them. Similarly, this job has to come under regulated activity.

How do I apply?

A basic DBS check involves no third party and is a straightforward process. You will need to go to the government portal and register. On the contrary, if you’ve registered your income tax online, manage benefits or use any government services, you may be able to use this login.

Upon your registration you will have to confirm your identity which often involves showing your passport, driving license and electoral role, to verify who you are. Once done, apply and wait for your check in the post.

Screening and DBS for work overseas

Once the COVID virus has been tamed and the world is back to normal we can consider different opportunities.

Have you envisioned a dream career at sea? In comparison to other forms of employment, you will have to undergo a few more steps, to navigate the shores. A few of these requirements involve proof of your identitiy; such as passport, DBS check, nationality and your rights to work in the U.K.

Irrespective of marine work, in most professions you will require the DBS check. A DBS check helps prospective employers identify candidates who are suitable for the positions. Similarly, sometimes medical checks are required but are not always essential. However, in the marine industry, you must have a medical check for any job.

What do I require?

To prove to an employer you’ve had a medical check, you will require a seafarer medical certificate. Depending on which certification you need you can either get the ENG1 or ML5. First of all, the ENG1 who works in the merchant navy or on cargo ships.

However, the ML5 is specifically for people who work on passenger ships and are crew members. You must have these before you begin work. Once you show a maritime company your certificate, it’s more than likely they will make the job offer a conditional one.

How do I get a medical?

If you require a medical, do note the NHS does not cover your medicals, and not every practice does them. To find out where you can get a medical check from you can check the government website for a list of verified agencies.

Do be aware if you find a doctor through the NHS, you will have to pay their consultancy fee but also for the medical report, which is higher than what the government sets.

Once you’ve passed your medical, you won’t need another one for two years. However, if you become ill at any time, your license will be revoked.

Will I need a DBS check to work on a cruise ship?

We would be lying to say the cruise industry wasn’t affected by COVID-19. Not only because of this pandemic is it tough to get a job in this sector, but you have to jump other hurdles.

If you apply for a job working with children on a cruise line, it’s mandatory you undergo a DBS check. What will happen, is that your prospective employer will check if you have a criminal background and if so, they won’t hire you.

Most of the time, cruise ships pay the cost of a DBS check and certificate for their candidates. However, depending on the company, they may ask you to finance it upfront and then reimburse you later in your first payment. If you’re applying from overseas, you may be asked to submit one and a certificate to show you have good character.

Do face mask fines show up on a DBS Check?

Due to the new normal, wearing a face mask in the U.K has been somewhat controversial. Generally, the majority of the population has to wear a facemask because it is the law. On the contrary, some may be exempt from doing so if they have medical difficulties.

However, if you get caught not wearing one, there is new legislation which states you could be subject to a fine. Because of this, this specific ‘face fine’ has caused a lot of confusing questions. First, will this fine show up on your criminal record? Second, will this show up on future DBS Check?

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