It is nearing that time of year again…festive music resounds everywhere, parents dash around buying Xmas presents for their families and excitable children make their annual visit to see Santa in the hope that their Christmas wishes will be granted.
The yearly festivities command a rise in seasonal workers, such as Santa and his elves, who are predominant in shops, garden centres and general attractions during this period.
People may assume it is standard practice that if a person is in such close contact with children, a criminal record check would be an obligatory measure.
However, this is not actually the case. Care Check receive many enquiries from clients concerning this issue because they believe they need to obtain DBS checks for seasonal workers, which include Santa and elves.
This temporary role does not actually require or meet eligibility requirements for an Enhanced criminal record check and if this level application was approved and submitted Care Check would, effectively, be breaking the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act (SVGA).
The confusion arises because socially we have been encouraged to check any person that will be working with children due to much media scrutiny, however, an employer should not check a Santa at the Enhanced level.
The criterion states that to be granted this level check, the person would need to be working unsupervised with children and be responsible for their welfare during this time.
No Santa would be left alone with children and they would always be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Typically, children would only be in contact with Santa for no more than five minutes and these factors remove all risks of a breach in the safeguarding for children.
It must also be noted that Santa and any elves employed, only work temporarily for a few weeks of the year and this affects the frequency and intensity of the job role because it is for such a short time period.
If the law does not state that Santa requires a DBS, what is best practice?
Despite festive workers not being legally bound to have a DBS check, it is still a common concern amongst parents who have witnessed innocent children being abused by adults in a position of trust, that a DBS check should be in place.
For best practice, most employers have taken the decision to check them for a Basic criminal record check. This pacifies people’s anxieties and parents can feel more confident knowing that the Santa and other festive workers have had police checks completed before commencing work.
However, as it is not compulsory, some employers resolve not to get their seasonal workers checked. If this is the case, employers must ensure they seek additional references from a job applicant.
For more information on this topic, please contact Care Check on 0333 777 8575 and one of the team will be able to assist you.