Do Self Employed Workers Need DBS Checks?
If you’re self-employed or thinking about making the transition from employee to working for yourself, you may be wondering whether you’ll need to get a DBS check, which is a criminal background check.
There are plenty of jobs that require a DBS check these days, especially any role that involves direct contact with children or vulnerable adults such as working in a school, hospital, or healthcare environment. Other roles that often ask for a DBS check include those in finance or the transport industry.
For self-employed people, it’s not always clear whether a DBS check is necessary when working in certain industries or environments. This article should help to clarify things and let you know when a DBS check is needed or not.
Why would a self-employed person need a DBS check?
Let’s start by looking at the reasons for needing a DBS check when you’re self-employed. It’s true that many self-employed jobs do not require a DBS check, but there are many that do. Sometimes a potential client or customer will make it clear that you need a DBS check before you start working on a contract with them.
Whether you need a DBS check or not depends mainly on the type of service you offer. If you work remotely from home as a graphic designer or freelance writer, for instance, then it’s pretty obvious that you won’t need a DBS check, unless your client asks for one from every employee and freelancer as a matter of course.
However, if you are self-employed as a care worker, then you will almost certainly need a DBS check. In fact, it is required by law that anybody working in direct contact with vulnerable groups will need to get a DBS certificate. These kind of jobs are known as “regulated activities” by the DBS and require an enhanced DBS check.
Other self-employed job roles that may require a DBS check are construction workers, maintenance workers (in a school or hospital for instance), pest controllers, engineers, etc.
Any job in which the self-employed individual could pose a risk to others or a financial risk to the business may require a DBS check, so be prepared to get one done if that’s the case for the service you offer.
If you do have a criminal record, then expect that this may prevent you from working in certain areas if it is revealed on a DBS check.
Who can apply for a DBS check?
Anyone can apply for a Basic DBS Check, without any input from a third party. You can simply fill in an online application, upload your ID documents, and wait for the results which are usually available within 48 hours and the certificate posted out to you within four weeks of the submission date.
If you require a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, then you cannot apply for these alone. These higher level DBS checks need to be submitted by an employer or registered third party, as there needs to be extra ID checks and the details need to be checked by an outsider, not the individual themself.
The client or employer will usually offer to cover the cost of the DBS check, but you can offer to pay yourself as it may give a good first impression and sweeten the deal if you’re competing for business with other self-employed service providers.
In some industries, the trade union has schemes that cover the cost of DBS checks, but you need to be a fully paid-up member to benefit from this.
Why can’t self-employed people apply for Standard or Enhanced DBS Checks themselves?
Standard and Enhanced DBS checks are regarded as higher level criminal record checks as they reveal more about an individual’s criminal history, including both spent and unspent convictions, warnings, reprimands, and cautions.
The reason that a third party needs to be involved in these higher level checks is that the ID requirements are more stringent and the original documents need to be seen by a registered person. Also, the application form details need to be checked more thoroughly before submission for anomalies, omissions, and inconsistencies.
Standard and Enhanced disclosures are used for roles where there is a more significant risk to people or the organisation, which means that tougher rules are enforced to make sure that ill-intentioned people don’t slip through the net.
What happens if I can’t apply for a DBS?
This can happen if you feel that you need a higher level DBS check (standard or enhanced), but there is nobody to apply on your behalf. For instance, you may be a children’s entertainer that gets hired for private parties. In this case, you may not need a full DBS check, even though you are working with children, as there will always be other adults present.
However, you should take as many necessary precautions as needed to cover yourself. You could ask parents to sign a document that they will be present at all times and will be responsible for the safety of their children, for instance.
If you’re unsure as to whether you need a higher level DBS check or not, you can get in touch with the DBS or look on their website to see a list of “regulated activities”.
How to get a DBS check
If you are confident that you need a DBS check and you’re able to apply for one, then the application process is fairly straightforward. You can either apply online or by hand, using a paper form.
The application form asks for personal details such as name, DOB, address history going back five years, and past and present employment details.
You will also be asked to provide ID documents to accompany your application.
You need to provide two of the following documents for the Basic DBS Check:
- Valid photographic driving license or passport
- Proof of address document – recent utility bill (within the past 3 months), bank statement, credit card statement, driving license (if not used as photographic ID)
For a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, you’ll need to provide the above documents, as well as an extra one from the following:
- P45 or P60
- A sponsorship letter from your employer or potential employer
- Mortgage statement
- Other financial statement, utility bill, or council letter
If you don’t provide the correct documents, then your DBS check application may be delayed or rejected, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully and submit the right documents.
Most self-employed jobs and roles don’t require a DBS check, or only ask for a Basic DBS Check which you can apply for yourself online.
But, there are some instances where a DBS check will be required. The potential client will normally let you know ahead of time, but if you’re unsure then it’s always worth asking. The last thing you want is a long delay before you can start work due to the DBS check requirement being overlooked.
To find out more about DBS checks, including how to apply quickly and easily online, get in touch with one of our expert agents today.