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Volunteer Checks
for Employers

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Volunteer Checks

Once you’ve registered your organisation, you’ll be charged for individual checks as and when you request them – there are no upfront minimums or contractual tie-ins.

Number of Checks 1 - 50 51 - 300 301 - 500 501 - 750 751 - 1,000 1,001 +
uCheck Fee (inc VAT) £15.70 £14.70 £13.20 £11.80 £9.90 £7.40

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uCheck facts: Volunteers

In 2018/19, 19.4 million (36%) people volunteered through a group at least once a year and over 11.9 million (22%) of people did so at least once a month.

Volunteer Checks for Employers

DBS Checks for volunteers: Who’s eligible?

To be eligible for a DBS Check for volunteers, a person needs to be a volunteer as defined by the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002. According to the Police Act definition, a person is a volunteer if they are ‘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 other than or in addition to a close relative’.

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It’s important for organisations to make a distinction between volunteers and paid members of staff when applying for DBS Checks. If a volunteer later moves into a paid position, they would need a new, non-volunteer DBS Check.

DBS Checks for volunteers can be either Standard or Enhanced. To be eligible for a Standard or Enhanced Check, volunteers need to meet specific eligibility criteria.

Volunteer DBS Checks: An eligibility checklist

Need to obtain DBS Checks for volunteers, but not sure if an applicant qualifies? Use our handy checklist to decide.

An applicant will qualify for a volunteer DBS Check if they:

  • Do not benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted
  • Do not receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  • Are not on a work placement
  • Are not on a course that requires them to do this volunteer role
  • Are not in a trainee position that will lead to a full time role or qualification
Young person volunteering

Volunteer checks: Some eligible roles

Here are some examples of roles that would be eligible for a volunteer DBS Check:

  • Adoptive parents
  • Scouts or Guides leaders
  • Parent helpers in schools or nurseries

These roles are entirely voluntary, unpaid and primarily aimed at providing a service to a third party, so applicants in these roles would qualify for a volunteer DBS.

DBS Checks for volunteers: Some ineligible roles

Here are some examples of roles that would not be eligible for a volunteer DBS Check:

  • Foster carers, or members of a foster carer’s household aged 18 or over
  • People working on volunteering projects abroad
  • Students on work placements as part of their medical/teaching/social work training

Being a foster carer (or a member of a foster carer’s household) is entirely voluntary. However, foster carers usually receive payment for these activities. This means that neither the foster carer or any members of their household are entitled to a volunteer DBS Check.

Volunteer DBS: What level do I need?

DBS Checks for volunteers are only available at the Standard or Enhanced level. Only employers or organisations can request DBS Checks for volunteers – the volunteers themselves cannot apply individually.

The DBS doesn’t charge a fee for a DBS Check for volunteers, as long as the applicant meets the volunteer definition referenced above. However, if your organisation applies for a check through an umbrella body (like us!), there may be a small administration fee to pay. With uCheck, the fee is just £15.20 per volunteer DBS Check.

As Basic Checks aren’t a legal requirement, the DBS doesn’t issue Basic DBS Checks for volunteers free of charge. If you wanted to obtain a Basic DBS Check – for either paid staff or volunteers – the DBS would charge a fee of £18.00.

How does the process compare to other DBS Checks?

If you request a DBS for volunteers, the process is largely the same as it is for those in paid employment.The volunteer will need to complete a volunteer DBS Check application form and supply sufficient identity documents in support of the application.

As the employer, you’ll need to specify that the applicant is a volunteer at the relevant point in the process to ensure the application is submitted correctly.

Once the process is complete, the DBS will issue a hard copy certificate to the applicant containing the result of the check.

The DBS processes over 800,000 applications for volunteer positions annually. This means that 20% of Disclosure Checks are for voluntary positions.

Do Volunteer DBS Checks take longer than paid checks?

A DBS for volunteers is processed in exactly the same way as checks for paid employees.

The distinction between volunteers and paid employees is primarily made to determine whether the DBS needs to charge the organisation a processing fee.

If the role in question is completely voluntary and meets the specified definition, then the DBS checking process remains unchanged and the turnaround time won’t be affected.

Why should I get DBS Checks for volunteers?

As an organisation or employer, you have a duty to safeguard any vulnerable people your paid staff and volunteers come into contact with. Obtaining DBS Checks for volunteers who are eligible is a vital part of doing this.

Some organisations are governed by regulatory bodies like the Care Quality Commission, Charity Commission or Ofsted. These bodies set the standard regarding who should be checked and how often, and this applies to volunteers too.

We recommend consulting your organisation’s regulatory body in the first instance to ensure you’re compliant with their requirements, and to establish your applicants’ eligibility.

Kids volunteering
Any further questions? Please use our LiveChat facility or give us a call on 0300 140 0022

Volunteer FAQ

As of the 31st of May 2015 all Standard and Enhanced DBS certificates issued by the DBS show if a fee has been charged by the DBS. This change allows organisations to see whether the DBS Certificate was issued for a volunteer role or paid role. In the top left-hand side of the certificate the wording ‘No DBS fee charged’ or ‘DBS Fee charged’ will be shown.

If the applicant is no longer performing the role voluntarily and moves into a paid position, then a new DBS check should be carried out ensuring that the volunteer question is answered as ‘No’.

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

If you have answered ‘YES’ to any one of those questions, then they do not qualify.

If an applicant meets the definition of a volunteer only our admin fee would apply, which starts at £14.00.

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