Child safeguarding rules force recruiters to check all candidates’ compliance

Guidance around working with young children has seen recruiters change how they recruit and screen candidates, in some cases going through thousands of people on their books to check compliance.

Wed, 1 Apr 2015

Guidance around working with young children has seen recruiters change how they recruit and screen candidates, in some cases going through thousands of people on their books to check compliance.

In at least one case, it has prompted the appointment of a dedicated compliance officer.

The Department for Education published guidance announcing ‘disqualification by association’ late last year and updated in February this year. This effectively bars people from working with children under the age of eight if they live or work in the same household as someone who is disqualified from working with young children.

Lauren Thompson, South West-based Classpeople’s recently appointed compliance officer, told Recruiter the disqualification by association requirement relies on self-disclosure, which means recruiters must ask candidates to provide, to the best of their knowledge, information about someone who lives or works in their household.

No one who has been disqualified or is associated with someone who has been disqualified can work with children unless they receive dispensation from Ofsted that specifically covers the role they wish to undertake.

Disqualification covers a huge range of offences against children and adults, as well as anything to warrant inclusion on the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) list, as set out in the government’s Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 guidance.

Broadly, they cover serious violent and sexual offences and offences against children.

Thompson said Classpeople had begun the process of sorting through the about 5,000 people on its books to check whether they were compliant and to get them to fill in the self-declaration forms.

She said potentially business-damaging repercussions for a recruitment firm could occur if something happened or an allegation was made and it was proven that the agency had not carried out necessary checks. It could also put the safeguarding of children at risk.

Connex Education commercial manager Mark Ashmore, who is in charge of compliance at the firm, said the guidance seemed to “come out of the blue” for both schools and agencies and may have caused headaches for some.

The Connex team has had to check the compliance of the estimated 1,500 people on their books, though Ashmore said it “hasn’t been overly traumatic”.  

“Ultimately, anything that is required in order to make our staff compliant and ensure safety within schools is a good thing. I think it was just the rushed nature of this guidance that caused people problems,” he said.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation solicitor Lorraine Laryea told Recruiter: “The changes have an impact on how agencies working in education carry out checks and update documents and have implications for data protection and candidates in existing roles.”

The trade body has provided its members with legal briefings around the issue and confirmed just over 50 recruitment agencies have achieved REC Audited Education status through its assessment programme.

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