With the Government’s plans to reach three million new apprentices by 2020¹, it’s becoming more attractive for businesses to employ apprentices, particularly with the introduction of the apprenticeship service and the Government’s ‘co-investment’ rate (to support employers who don’t pay the levy).

Apprentices have already become more popular in the UK with 491,300 new starters and 912,200 already participating in an apprenticeship in the 2016-17 academic year ². Great news for many businesses and young people alike. But if they’re potentially under 18 themselves where does this leave you in relation to checks in to their background?

What is a DBS/DS Check and why is it important?

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or Disclosure Scotland (DS) check is a record of a person’s criminal convictions and caution, and carries out the functions previously undertaken by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). These checks are used by organisations as part of their recruitment process. DBS and DS checks can vary in type depending on the level of information required or type of job being recruited for.

It’s important for employers to carry out DBS or DS checks as part of their background screening of employees in order to make safe recruitment decisions. For certain roles or industries, standard or enhanced DBS/DS checks are required. These checks could include information held on the DBS/DS children and adults’ barred lists, together with any information held by police forces, that is considered to be relevant to the job role. This is usually carried out for roles in the financial and security sectors or those that involve working with children or vulnerable adults.

Apprentices working with children and vulnerable adults

In some scenarios, you may have an apprentice in a role that requires them to undertake such work. So, do they need a criminal record check if they’re under 18? Yes. If the role that the apprentice is undertaking would require a criminal record check for any other member of adult staff, then they will require the same relevant DBS check, regardless of their age. However, it’s worth noting that DBS checks, even for apprentices, can only be carried out on those aged 16 years and over. This is sometimes difficult when you have a school leaver at 15 years who is ready to start work immediately before their 16th birthday.

Apprentices and your existing workforce

What about if you’re taking on an apprentice aged between 16-18; would it mean that the rest of your staff working alongside them might need a criminal record check? Quite simply the answer is no, the apprentices are employees themselves and so this does not apply.

How to integrate necessary background checks

At Experian, our background checking service is tailored to your needs and offers the basic, standard or enhanced criminal record checks, as well as other checks from identity and adverse financial to validation (Directorship, FCA, DVLA, media) and reference checks to help you build up a complete view of your candidates. As different roles require different checks, we provide a solution that allows you to integrate all the necessary checks into your background checking strategy. The benefit is a single view of a candidate or employee that is not only easier for you to manage, it is efficient through automation and provides a great user experience.

If you have any questions surrounding vetting and screening when taking on apprenticeships, new employees or even screening your existing workforce, then please feel free to get in touch where we can have a chat about your needs.

Want to know more about apprenticeship funding and how it works? Click here.

¹ https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-kick-starts-plans-to-reach-3-million-apprenticeships
² researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06113/SN06113.pdf