We have noticed a rise in employment cases where an employee is reported to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on a safeguarding issue. This could be as a result of an incident at a care home or in a school or nursery. These cases normally involve allegations of overly aggressive handling of children – particularly where they are being restrained (to protect themselves or others) or inappropriate behaviour with children (or vulnerable adults).
Even where no actual harm is caused and the incident is dealt with internally, a referral made to the DBS can have lasting consequences. The referral is made under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which obliges employers who are “regulated activity providers” to make a referral in respect of “relevant conduct”.
Relevant conduct includes conduct that endangers a child (or vulnerable adult) or is likely to do so. The test is not difficult meet if the conduct harms, causes harm or puts a child (or vulnerable adult) at risk of harm.
What is the impact on the employee?
Unfortunately for the employee, the decision to refer the incident can appear arbitrary and means that the employee may face another enquiry by the DBS, which could have serious repercussions for their future employment. Cases like these demonstrate how those working with children or vulnerable adults are themselves vulnerable to the impulses of a decision maker at the employer.
As with many government organisations, the process is slow and, in the meantime, the employee is left wondering what the impact may be and whether or not further sanctions may follow.
Whilst cases often do not involve dismissal, employees may feel they have no choice but to resign and of course such a decision is not taken lightly. An employee dismissed in such circumstances could only issue a claim for ordinary unfair dismissal if they had two years’ service at the time their employment ended and would likely suffer a double blow of losing their job with no prospect of a challenge and a referral to the DBS which may further blight their career.
If you are faced with a referral to the DBS it is in your interest to take legal advice immediately. We can help you persuade your employer of the error in their ways and to remedy our referral
Call us today on 08000 614 631 for a free initial consultation or use the contact form here to get in touch.