• Employers are required to ask prospective staff to obtain any criminal record certificate/s (basic disclosure) before they can successfully complete a background check for specified roles.

    The basic disclosure

    The UK criminal record basic disclosure certificate will show all convictions held which are unspent. Any spent convictions will not be shown on the certificate.

    What are spent and unspent convictions?

    Certain criminal convictions are ‘spent’ after a rehabilitation period as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974. Most rehabilitation periods are halved if the individual was under 18 when convicted; some convictions never become spent.

    Making an application

    Applications for criminal record checks are made by individual employees, not by you as employer. There are two ways of making applications for the UK and Northern Ireland:

    • each person who needs a disclosure can apply separately
    • you – as their employer – can send them in as a batch, as long as all the applicants have given permission

    Applicants living/working in Scotland should apply online to Disclosure Scotland for a basic disclosure certificate.

    Applicants living/working in England and Wales should apply online to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for a basic disclosure certificate.

    Applicants living/working in Northern Ireland should apply via post to Access NI for a basic disclosure certificate.

    The fee for each disclosure is currently 25 (GBP) from Disclosure Scotland, or 26 (GBP) from Access NI. This is normally paid by the employee but employers can pay instead if they wish. To arrange this, you will need to contact Disclosure Scotland on Tel 0870 609 6006 or Access NI on Tel 02890 259100.

    Returned applications

    Both Disclosure Scotland and Access NI normally return basic disclosure certificates in response to a fully valid application within 10 working days.

    Applicants can choose to have their certificate sent to their employer’s address. If so, the envelope will be addressed to them. You, as their employer, must not open it. If you do so, any disclosures requested in the future will only be sent directly to the applicants at their home address.

    The applicant can pass the criminal record certificate to anyone they choose. You, as the employer, will have to ask them for their certificate, and get permission from the applicant to pass it on to a third party (for example, in aviation, to the airport manager if necessary.