DBS Checks for Keyholders and Cash Handlers

It’s getting to that time of year again when retail businesses across the UK are ramping up for the Christmas rush. Even though an increasing number of customers are choosing to pay with a card rather than cash, it’s still a busy time for cash offices in shops. There’s a lot of trust involved, both in counting the day’s takings or taking it to the bank, and in being a keyholder with the responsibility of locking up at night or opening the shop in the morning. Many retail organisations use DBS checks as a way of ensuring they can trust their staff. What does this mean, and what are employers allowed to ask?

DBS Checks – the Law

There’s a lot of confusion about DBS checks. It’s mainly down to the fact that most people associate disclosure checks only with specific types of occupations, such as nurses and teachers. In fact, the system covers many more occupations. There are also three different levels of DBS check, depending on the type of job under consideration. The most detailed level of checking is reserved mainly for people working with children or vulnerable adults. People who are in positions of financial or legal responsibility might need a standard DBS check. Everyone else can only have a basic DBS check. This is the least detailed type of check. A basic DBS certificate will only show current and unspent criminal convictions and cautions.

So standard DBS checks for positions of responsibility?

Nobody’s arguing that counting the cash in a supermarket office or being responsible for locking up a department store isn’t a responsible position. The problem is that these sorts of jobs don’t fall into the DBS’s very narrow definition. Only senior positions in law, accountancy or insurance require a standard DBS check. In some occupations, people only need a DBS when entering the position. This is the case when registering for the first time as a chartered accountant, for example. It’s actually against the law to ask for standard or enhanced disclosure checks when the job doesn’t require it. Employers have to tread carefully, and come up with other ways of checking their keyholders and cash handling staff.

Employer Checks

Although employers might be blocked from doing a standard or enhanced check, that doesn’t mean other checks are ruled out too. Many employers decide to run a basic DBS check to reveal any more recent convictions. Often, people are promoted from within the company to take on additional responsibilities. From an employer’s point of view, this is safer than employing someone new to the business.

There are other things employers might decide to do too. Reference checking is very important when employing for a position of responsibility. Often, employers are cagey about revealing when someone has been fired for gross misconduct or left under a cloud. Phoning up a previous employer and having a chat will often reveal a lot more than a paper form. There are also lots of other checks and balances which employers can use to double check money going through the till and to make sure things are as safe and secure as they can be.

What to expect from disclosure checks

If your employer has decided to implement DBS checks then don’t panic. Applying for a DBS check is a very straightforward process. Your employer should firstly explain why they want you to have a check, and what they’ll do with the results. Fill in the form carefully, giving all of the relevant information. The form asks about your past addresses, any names you’ve used in the past, and other personal details such as your date of birth.

Then, you’ll be asked to provide other documents which back up the information you’ve provided on your form, like your passport or driving licence. It’s very important to make sure that the police are checking records about the right person. Your employer will want to see the originals of your documents, and might take a copy too. After that, it’s over to the DBS and police. They will look through all of their record when preparing the certificate, filtering out any convictions or cautions which are too old, or irrelevant. Finally, they’ll pop the certificate off in the post.