The use of temporary staff by employers in the public and voluntary sectors could be dramatically reduced after the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) changed its policy on background checks for temps.
Organisations using temps that require CRB checks – generally those dealing with vulnerable people or children – have been able to rely on “portability requests”, which re-use a disclosure obtained by a recruiter or another employer.
But the CRB has now stopped processing portability requests and will not endorse the use of transferred disclosures.
Recruitment experts warned that the move could “drastically impact” employers taking on temps, as new requests typically take about six weeks to obtain. The NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector could be particularly hard hit by the policy change.
“When assignments may last only a few days, it can prove unrealistic to obtain a new check for every temp, especially if they are required at short notice,” said Phil Dixon, divisional manager at recruitment firm Morgan Hunt, a firm registered with the CRB.
“Is it necessary to get another check when a candidate has a clean record, has worked for many years and when their last check is only weeks old and verified by another registered body?”
The move could deter employers from taking on temps because of the increase in bureaucracy, Dixon said. It could also lead to individuals being offered a role for which there are better qualified candidates simply because of the date of their disclosure, and/or the organisation that processed it, he warned.
A CRB spokeswoman said the decision was made because of the inherent risks associated with the re-use of a disclosure. “The Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders recommended tightening the checking procedure, and the repeated use of disclosures conflicts with that approach,” she said.
Transferring disclosures is not illegal, but the spokeswoman warned that employers that continue to accept a previously-issued disclosure “do so at their own risk”.
The CRB advises employers using transferred disclosures to conduct a “full risk assessment”, addressing issues such as legal requirements and the age and level of the disclosure.
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