If you are thinking about starting an unpaid role or are someone who recruits volunteers, you may need to know about DBS checks for volunteers.

Not all volunteers are eligible for DBS checks though, so it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding them before attempting to apply for one.

At uCheck, we’re experts in all things DBS. In this blog, we explain the ins and outs of DBS checks for volunteers.

Am I eligible?

Only volunteers who fulfil certain criteria will be eligible for a DBS check.

Firstly, the individual must fit the definition of a ‘volunteer’. The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002 defines a volunteer as ‘any individual engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out of pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative’.

The individual must also meet the eligibility requirements for a Standard or Enhanced DBS check, which generally involves working with children or vulnerable adults in a regulated activity. You can find out more about the government’s guidance on regulated activity for children here, and on regulated activity for adults here.

Who doesn’t qualify?

A volunteer will not qualify for a DBS check if they:

  1. benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted
  2. receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  3. are on a work placement
  4. are on a course that requires them to do this job role
  5. are in a trainee position that will lead to a full-time role/qualification

If a volunteer applies for a Standard or Enhanced check and does not fit this eligibility criteria, the DBS may retrospectively recover the full application fee.

What level of check do I need?

DBS checks for volunteers can only be conducted at Standard and Enhanced level. This means that individuals themselves cannot apply and it must be done by the organisation they are working for.

There is no DBS check cost for the volunteers to pay. However, organisations will have to pay a small administration fee if they use an umbrella body (at uCheck, it’s just £10.40 per check).

The DBS do not issue free Basic checks for volunteers because Basic checks are not a legal requirement. If an organisation did wish to apply for a Basic DBS check (for either paid staff or volunteers) the DBS would charge £25.00.

The process explained

DBS checks for volunteers typically follow the same process as the checks for those in paid employment. The organisation provides the volunteer with an application form, which must then be returned with several forms of identification.

The DBS will then issue a certificate to the applicant to provide them with the result of the check.

DBS checks for volunteers: A summary

In order to be eligible for a DBS check, a volunteer must be undertaking unpaid work for the benefit of an unrelated third party, with no intent to gain anything in return. They must also be working in a regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults.

If you have any unanswered questions about DBS checks for volunteers or want to find out more, then get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect M G Care Executive Limited trading as uCheck's current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

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