Safeguarding issues in employment

Safeguarding issues in employment

Safeguarding issues when working with children or vulnerable adults

We are noticing a rise in employment cases where an employee is reported to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This could be as a result of an incident at school nursery or youth club. These cases normally involve allegations of overly aggressive handling of children or inappropriate behaviour with children (or vulnerable adults).

Even where no harm is caused and the incident is dealt with internally, a referral made by the employer can have lasting consequences. The referral is made by the employer to the DBS under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which places an obligation on 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 and the test will be met if the conduct harms , causes harm or puts a child at risk of harm.

What is the impact on the employee following a report to the DBS?

Unfortunately for the employee, this arbitrary decision to refer the incident can be made by the employer so 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 whims of a decision maker within the employing organisation. As with most government organisations, the process is painfully 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 lodge a claim for unfair dismissal if they had two year’s service at the time of dismissal and would thus 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.

To speak to a recommended employment solicitor about unfair dismissal or any other employment issue you may have please call 0113 320 5000