The Self-Employed's Guide to DBS Checks

Will Offensive Social Media Content Appear in a DBS Check? 

Most people who use the internet will also be active across a variety of social media accounts. Social media sites and apps offer a convenient and efficient way of keeping in touch with your loved ones, finding out more about celebrities and even raising awareness of your brand or business.

However, there’s always the potential for online conversations to lead to Twitter wars or escalate to other forms of social media conflicts. Whilst social media disagreements happen every day, in rare cases they can lead to the police becoming involved and there have even been cases of people obtaining a criminal record as a result of their social media conduct. If you’re worried about whether social media disputes will appear on your DBS check, take a look at the below information regarding when it might be a contributing factor to the outcome of your DBS check.

What is Social Media Law in the UK? 

The social media laws in the UK have been clarified in recent years, to ensure clear parameters are set regarding the types of social media behaviour which will be deemed unlawful. For example, if an individual is found to have shown hostility towards another person based on protected characteristics, such as their gender identity, religion, disability or sexual orientation, they will be in breach of Sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. 

Malicious Communications Act 1988 

Although this legislation was established before the first social media post was made public, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 still contains useful information, some of which can be applied to scenarios involving heated conversations over social media. 

Despite predating social media platforms, the Act can still be used to prosecute individuals who send threatening, incredibly offensive or slanderous messages. In extreme cases, people may be sent to prison for sending such messages. However, far more often than not, the court will either issue a fine or some form of community service.

Will Social Media Messages Impact DBS Check Outcomes?

The short answer is, potentially. The information shared in a DBS check depends on which of the three types of DBS checks is carried out.

In most cases, employers will only be permitted to obtain a basic check on their prospective employees. When a basic DBS check is requested, only current and unspent convictions will be included. Depending on how old you are at the time of the social media activity in question and the nature of the punishment issued by the court, an offensive Tweet may stay on your record for just six months. 

If, however, a standard or enhanced DBS check is needed, the conviction could stay on your record for significantly longer. With either of these categories of DBS checks, the DBS are able to disclose previous convictions provided they have a legitimate reason to believe they are relevant to the role in question. 

So, whether they will reveal information concerning offensive social media messages depends upon the nature of the content shared over the platform and its potential relevance to the job the applicant wishes to be considered for. If information is shared with your prospective employer and they are not familiar with social media conduct, it may also require an explanation.

It’s therefore advisable to treat convictions relating to social media like you would any other offense: be upfront with any potential future employers at the beginning and use the rest of the recruitment process to show them how you’ve changed and grown as a person. This way, they should at least be reassured that you will not behave in the same manner again.

For further guidance regarding DBS checks and how to arrange them for your prospective employees, please contact us today.