April 2020: Changes in relation to the Coronavirus Act 2020

See also Coronavirus Act 2020 chapter

The Coronavirus Act 2020 (see Coronavirus Act 2020 chapter) allows the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Social Work England and the Health and Care Professions Council to add social workers and healthcare professionals those who have recently de-registered to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on the links to view the information on their websites.

1. Introduction

Recruitment may vary for different posts, but the basic principles should be followed whichever position is being recruited to. All recruitment should be in line with equal opportunities (see Equality, Diversity and Human Rights), and be monitored accordingly. No person should be treated less favourably in employment because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, age or offending background (subject to the appropriate checks).

1.1 Safer recruitment

Safer recruitment, induction and supervision of staff are essential to the safeguarding of adults with care and support needs. As well as generic guidance, this chapter provides specific information in relation to safer recruitment practices at each step of the generic recruitment process, which aims to prevent unsuitable persons from working with adults, either as a paid member of staff or volunteer whether they are permanent, temporary or agency staff or recruited from abroad. In addition, it applies to staff / volunteers who are seen by adults and their families as trustworthy and / or have access to confidential information. This may include administrative staff, caretakers, and maintenance workers for example.

A service level agreement or contract should also contain the service’s safeguarding statement. The provider should have a policy statement in relation to its commitment to the prevention of abuse and neglect and promoting the wellbeing of adults with care and support needs, to which it is expected all staff and volunteers will abide and embed in their daily practice. It should include a statement that robust recruitment and selection procedures are in place to identify and deter people who might abuse or neglect adults with care and support needs or who are otherwise unsuitable for employment / volunteering.

‘Finders Keepers’ (Skills for Care) is designed to help providers, particularly smaller organisations, to improve the ways they recruit staff and retain them.

2. Recruitment Procedure

The recruitment process should be led by the service manager or delegated other. This will be a senior manager / representative of the Board when appointing to the service manager post.

Issues include:

  • the decision to fill the post is the responsibility of the manager;
  • the recruitment proposal should be determined by the manager with consultation with a senior manager / representative of the Board;
  • The manager, in conjunction with the senior manager / representative of the Board, should be responsible for deciding who is to be on the recruitment panel, as all selections should be made by a panel and not by an individual. The Panel should consist of three people and should, where possible, reflect groups which experience discrimination in their make-up in an attempt to eliminate stereotyping and bias;
  • when there is an internal applicant, the requirement to use an external interviewer from a partner agency should be considered to avoid potential allegations of bias.
  • a job analysis should be undertaken by the recruitment panel;
  • no barriers to age, disability or race should be included in the application form, but should be evaluated via completion of a separate equal opportunities monitoring form;
  • all posts should be open to applicants over the age of 18. There is no maximum age for applicants;
  • formal qualifications may not necessarily be required unless necessary and related to the job. If so, this should be stated in the person specification.  Equivalent overseas qualifications will be regarded as acceptable.  Any doubts over comparability with qualifications obtained in the UK should be checked;
  • consideration should be given to all types and lengths of experience, including voluntary work experience;
  • the criteria may be weighted; the recruitment panel should make this decision and keep a record of such reasons;
  • applications from internal applicants, including volunteers, should be welcomed.

2.1 Job description

The job description (JD) should be drawn up by the manager in conjunction with a senior manager / representative of the Board. This may be in line with existing JDs or it may be a new post. It should be flexible and allow for reasonable adjustments to be made should disabled people apply.

It should be specific about extent of contact and levels of responsibility the post holder will have for adults with care and support needs, including prevention of abuse or neglect at operational and / or strategic levels.

2.2 Person specification

The person specification (PS) should be drawn up by the manager in conjunction with the senior manager / representative of the Board. It should take into account skills and experience – both essential and desirable – required for the post, as well as those needed to balance the team. It may include an item on staff health and wellbeing, and the ability to physically / mentally carry out the post. How the evidence for meeting the PS is to be identified should be decided at this stage.  No criteria should be used for short-listing which is not included in the person specification.

The PS should include any other requirements the post holder will need in order to perform the role in relation to working with adults with care and support needs, including experience specific to the post, for example working with adults with learning disabilities or dementia. The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate such required competencies and qualities.

2.3 Candidate information pack

The information pack should also highlight that a robust selection process is in place, and again include the organisation’s safeguarding adults’ policy. It should state proof of identity will be required, as well as a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as appropriate.

2.4 Application form

The provider should only use their own application forms for applicants, except where disabled people need to send in applications in other formats. It is not good practice to accept curriculum vitae instead of an application form as this may only contain information the person wants to present rather than all the information the organisation requires to enable shortlisting. The applicant form should again include reference to the organisation’s commitment to safeguarding adults with care and support needs.

2.5 Job advertisements

Advertisements should be designed and placed to attract as wide a group of suitable applicants as possible.

The decision on where and when to advertise will be made by the manager, in conjunction with the senior manager / representative of the Board.

Advertising via local media outlets should ensure that local communities are aware of such vacancies.  The advert should specify minimum work experience and / or qualifications required and that a Disclosure and Barring Service Check is required, as appropriate.  Applicants should be asked to contact the provider for a recruitment pack, or be able to download one via the provider’s website where possible.

Recruitment packs should include a covering letter, information about the provider, job description, person specification, application form, terms and conditions and a Right to Work in the UK declaration form. Data protection statements should be included about protecting the applicant’s information, where necessary, as well as equality monitoring forms.

2.6 Shortlisting

Shortlisting should be conducted by all members of the recruitment panel, on the basis of meeting the essential and desirable criteria in the PS, and applied consistently to all applicants.

Application forms should be scrutinised for any unexplained gaps in employment history, or other potential concerns in relation to safeguarding adults. References should be sought on all candidates who are shortlisted for interview.

2.7 Participation of adults with care and support needs

Adults who use the service can make very valuable contributions as part of recruitment of new staff positions. Their participation should be built into the process at all levels, from administration posts to senior positions. Their roles should be clarified with the adults who participate, so they understand how their views will be considered and what weighting they will be given.

2.8 Interviews

One member of the panel should be trained in safer recruitment practice. One member of the panel should also chair the interviews.

Interview questions should be drawn up by the panel with reference to the personal specification. The referee should be asked to respond to specific questions which will relate to the ability to do the job and to work within policies and procedures.

All candidates should be asked questions about their commitment to both equality and diversity and safeguarding adults and children, and how they will ensure their work promotes these issues.

The interview may also include a presentation and scenario question when this is deemed to be appropriate. A second interview may be required if no decision can be reached or if more information is required. References for internal candidates should not be provided by a member of the recruitment panel.

The panel should explore with the candidate:

  • their attitude towards adults with care and support needs, including any specific needs of adults of the service, including reasons why they want to work with such adults;
  • their ability and commitment to the organisation’s agenda for safeguarding and promoting wellbeing;
  • any gaps in their employment history;
  • discrepancies / concerns in relation to any information provided by either them or a referee;
  • if they wish to declare anything in relation to applying for a criminal records check;
  • confirm their right to work in the UK;
  • their understanding of appropriate relationships and personal boundaries;
  • emotional resilience in working with in challenging situations.

The panel should state to each candidate there will be a requirement to complete an application for a Disclosure and Barring Service check, confirm their identity and receive satisfactory references.

The chair should also contact all applicants as soon as possible after the completion of the interview to inform them of the panel’s decision.  A phone call to the successful candidate will be followed up with a letter confirming appointment. Feedback on the interview should be given to unsuccessful candidates, but not to people that have not been shortlisted.

The chair of the panel should ensure that notes are kept, to record the reasons for selection or rejection of candidates and the scores of candidates if any are used.  These notes will be kept as in the above paragraph.

Any rough notes made by interviewers to act as memory aids when making the decision will be destroyed immediately after the interview by the interviewers.

The provider may keep a record of the date of issue of DBS check information, name of subject, reference number and decision taken.  It should also keep equality monitoring data on applicants.

2.9 Conditional Offer of Appointment

Offers of appoint should be conditional on receipt of satisfactory checks and references. This should include checks in relation to any concerns about their own children.

Candidates should be asked to bring certificates or evidence of qualifications where these are necessary criteria for the post or as evidence of identity or evidence of their commitment to learning and development.

All candidates will be asked to provide evidence that they are eligible to work in the UK.  See Check a job applicant’s ‘right to work’ documents (UK Government).

2.10 Requesting references

References should be sought from referees in relation to successful applicants. If there is any concern about a reference received, further information should be sought from the referee if possible, or another reference sought. The situation should be discussed with the applicant.

Where an applicant is not currently working with adults with care and support needs, but has done so previously, a reference should also be obtained from the last such employer, in addition to the current / most recent employer. This should include confirmation of the reason why the applicant left the post.

The referee should state:

  • whether they are satisfied the applicant has the ability and is suitable to undertake the job, and if not why;
  • whether they were the subject of any disciplinary sanctions or any allegations made against them, which relate to adults (including outcomes).

2.11 Criminal records checks

See also Disclosure and Barring Service Guide to Eligibility.

The level of disclosure requested – either Standard or Enhanced – should reflect the nature of the post and degree of contact with adults or with confidential information. A record should be kept of the date when the disclosure was obtained, by whom, level of disclosure and unique reference number.

There are three levels of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Each contains different information and the eligibility for each check is set out in law. They are:

  • Standard check: This allows employers to access the criminal record history of people working, or seeking to work, in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children or adults in specific situations. A standard check discloses details of an individual’s convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings recorded on police systems and includes both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions;
  • Enhanced check: This discloses the same information provided on a Standard certificate, together with any local police information that the police believe is relevant and ought to be disclosed;
  • Enhanced with barred list check: This check includes the same level of disclosure as the enhanced check, plus a check of the appropriate barred lists. An individual may only be checked against the children’s and adults’ barred lists if their job falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults.

If the person selected starts work before the results of the DBS check is received, they will not be able to work unsupervised with adults with care and support needs until a satisfactory check is received.

Disclosure information should not be kept on an applicant’s personnel file and should be kept separately and securely with access limited to those who are entitled to see it.

All application forms and notes and DBS disclosure information relating to unsuccessful applicants will be kept confidentially for one year and then destroyed by secure means.

This information will only be used in the event of any complaints or claims to employment tribunals or in circumstances where the information is required for audit.

2.12 Recruitment of ex-offenders

Where a DBS check is to form part of the recruitment process, the provider should encourage all applicants to provide details of their criminal record at an early stage in the application process.  The applicant should be asked to send this under separate confidential cover, to a designated person within the service. Guarantees should be given that this information will only be seen by those involved in the recruitment process.

Unless the nature of the position allows the provider to ask questions about an applicant’s entire criminal record, questions about ‘unspent’ convictions should only be asked as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

At interview applicants may be asked about any offences or other matters which might be relevant to the position.  Failure to reveal information which is directly relevant to the position could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment.

The provider should abide by the DBS Code of Practice.

The provider should discuss any matter revealed by a DBS check with the applicant before withdrawing a conditional offer of employment.  Having a criminal record should not necessarily bar a person from being employed. This will depend on the nature of the position and the circumstances and background of their offences.

In the following circumstances the applicant should be reported to the police:

  • they are found to be on a list concerning their suitability to work with adults / have been disqualified from working with adults by a Court;
  • they provided false information in relation to their application;
  • there are serious concerns about their suitability to work with adults.

2.13 Checks on overseas staff

The same checks should be made on overseas staff as for all other staff.

Where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous five years, the employer should obtain a check of the applicant’s criminal record from the relevant authority in that country as well as information about their conduct. It should be noted that not all overseas organisations / countries are able to provide such information.

2.14 Agency staff

Written confirmation should be provided by the agency that the necessary checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory.

2.15 Pre-employment health checks

If the selected applicant has taken considerable amounts of sick leave not related to a disability in recent posts, or had to leave previous posts because of sickness not related to a disability, the recruitment panel may decide to refer the applicant for an occupational health assessment prior to confirming an appointment. In these cases, an offer of employment should not be made until the health check has been carried out and the panel is satisfied with the result. Past sickness, which is not recurrent, will not automatically bar candidates from selection.

Where sickness is related to a disability, the panel will take this into consideration when considering adjustments which need to be made.

2.16 Personnel records

In relation to each candidate who is appointed, records should be made of:

  • any specific information raised with them (for example gaps in employment history) and their explanation and any corroborating information;
  • the outcome of their criminal records check including unique reference number and date;
  • reasons for decision to appoint despite criminal convictions, including risk assessment undertaken.

2.17 Monitoring of recruitment information

Information from equal opportunities monitoring forms for each recruitment exercise will be collated and analysed and the results recorded to enable monitoring of the recruitment process.  This information should be considered by provider, which will advise on any action needed if the profile of applicants does not reflect the population profile with its area of remit.

3. Commencing Employment

3.1 Induction

A contract of employment should be issued prior to the person starting work.

Induction is the responsibility of the line manager, who should draw up an induction programme appropriate to the post and supervise the new employee’s satisfactory completion of the programme. This should be part of the supervision process (see Supervision and Personal Development Review).

On starting in a new post, the member of staff should be given written information in relation to:

  • safeguarding adults policies and procedures;
  • know the identity of and how to contact staff with designated safeguarding responsibilities; what to do if they have concerns about the safety of a child or adult;
  • other relevant procedures for example whistleblowing and allegations (see Whistleblowing and Allegations against People in Positions of Trust);
  • clear written statement of the standards of behaviour, code of conduct and the boundaries of appropriate behaviour expected of staff;
  • safeguarding adults and children training, and booked on relevant courses (see Staff Training and Development);
  • supervision and appraisal processes and know when the first sessions will take place.

There will be a probationary period of six months for all new workers, after completion of 6 months the manager will meet with the new worker to review performance and if this is satisfactory will confirm appointment.  The probationary period may be extended when necessary.

3.2 Criminal records rechecking

Criminal records checks on existing staff should be carried out every three years, unless there are grounds for concern about the member of staff’s suitability to work with adults (please note the employee can decline).

Staff can register with the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service, in relation to criminal records rechecking. For more information please see the Disclosure and Barring Service website.