Skills for Care has published a guide for social care and health employers to recruit safely and fairly.

The Safe and Fair Recruitment Guide helps employers understand that having a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is unsuitable for employment in social care.

The guide provides employers with their legal rights and responsibilities when carrying out criminal record (Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)) checks, and it gives information and practical examples to help them confidently implement safe and fair recruitment policies and procedures.

It also includes:

  • DBS eligibility criteria and appropriate level checks for different roles

  • help in addressing any existing barriers to recruitment

  • support to make recruitment processes more open

  • information on risk assessments for applicants with criminal records

  • guidance for making informed decisions about applicant suitability.

The guide recognises that, while it is essential that people receiving support are well-cared-for and safeguarded from harm, employers also need to be supported to recruit fairly and safely, assessing risks and applicant suitability along the way.

Skills for Care emphasised the importance of having effective recruitment processes in place. The organisation said, however, that many recruitment practices unintentionally exclude people with criminal records from employment, resulting in employers missing out on an extensive pool of potential recruits who “have the right values to make a positive contribution to a role in adult social care”.

Skills for Care CEO Sharon Allen said: “Employers already carry out disclosure and barring checks as part of pre-employment vetting, but with 11 million people in the UK having a criminal record it’s important they know that this isn’t an automatic barrier to working in the social care sector.”

She said meeting the recruitment challenge in social care requires all employers to consider the widest pool of applicants and think about potential, including “looking at people our sector may have not considered previously, including those with criminal records and of course continuing to exclude those with particular forms of criminal record”.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) Adult Social Care Chief Inspector Andrea Sutcliffe said: “The guide helps providers to identify, and make use of, the wealth of guidance and resources available for them to meet the standards expected, and to encourage considerate, inclusive, and safe recruitment practices.

“We all want the same outcome; for the right people, with the right values and skills, to want to work in social care and see it as a long-term career choice.”

The guide is available at

Last reviewed 28 November 2018