Employers who hire unvetted staff could face heavy fines or five years in jail under new tougher controls introduced by the government.
A single list of people banned from working with children in England and Wales will be brought in under a Bill called Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups.
Education secretary Ruth Kelly said it is a fundamental reform of the system.
At the moment, separate checks have to be made on List 99, a health service list currently operating under the Protection of Children Act, and the sex offenders register.
The Bill also proposes that any employers who knowingly hire people who have been barred from working with children could face a five-year jail term or fines of up to £5,000.
The Bill will allow employers to make secure, online checks on the records of up to eight million people who work with children.