Can I be a care worker with a criminal record?

Can I be a care worker with a criminal record?

Organisations that offer care services have a duty of care to those they are working with, particularly if they fall within a vulnerable group. Therefore, they must be rigorous in their checks to ensure that no employees pose a risk.

If you’ve always dreamed of being a care worker but have a criminal record, you may be wondering what your chances of success are. The short answer to that question is that you are not automatically disqualified from working in the care industry simply because you have criminal activity recorded against you. 

To be refused a role as a care worker based on your history, the crime must be relevant to the position. Your potential employer will have to consider how long ago the crime took place, whether you have been involved in criminal activity since and whether you are deemed to be a risk to those you are working with. 

To further complicate matters, not every crime will show up on a DBS check, depending on the level of check requested and any filtering implemented. 

Let’s start at the top:

What is the role of a care worker?

Care workers can be based in a care home, within a community or even in a patient’s home. Their role revolves around improving the daily lives of vulnerable patients. Care workers assist with booking and attending medical appointments, money management, maintaining hygiene, carrying out household tasks and more.

As you can see, that is a lot of responsibility. Unfortunately, some people use this position to scam or even physically harm their patients, which is why employers must be vigilant in who they hire. They do this by carrying out DBS checks on all employees.

What DBS do I need to work in care?

Because you will be operating in a regulated activity, employers will request an enhanced DBS check, including the barred list. There are two barred lists: children’s and adult’s, and is essentially a list of people legally banned from working with these groups. 

The patients you will be working with will influence which list is allowed to be checked. An employer cannot check whether you are on the children’s barred list if your role specifies that you will only be working with adults, for example. 

Is it illegal to work in care without a DBS?

It is illegal to begin working in a regulated activity without an updated DBS check on file. And a new check should be carried out every time you are offered a new care worker position, even if it is with the same company. Additionally, regular checks should be carried out throughout your employment. No organisation employing care workers should allow you to begin working without an updated check.

What comes up on a DBS check?

If you have a criminal record, you may be wondering what will show up on an enhanced DBS check. In addition to highlighting if you are listed on a barred list, spent and unspent convictions, cautions, warnings and reprimands will be surfaced. Relevant information for non-convictions can also be included. 

What will an employer do with their findings?

Waiting for a care worker DBS check to come back can be daunting, especially if you have a criminal record. Although the primary aim of a DBS check is to protect the people you will be working with; it’s worth remembering that it is also there to protect you too. An employer cannot discriminate against you because of your past. For example, if your crime took place in your youth and is unrelated to care, your employer can not use this as a reason to deny employment. 

They will have to consider any information highlighted in a check and evidence that you are unsuitable for the position to comply with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Additionally, your employer must keep the results of your DBS confidential. If they disclose any of the findings without your prior OK, they will be acting unlawfully. 

Having a criminal record does not automatically preclude you from working in care, nor does it mean you definitely will be offered employment. The situation must be analysed on a case by case basis, and any decisions must be evidenced to be legally binding.