During recruitment, an employer can ask job applicants or volunteers to obtain an AccessNI basic check to disclose unspent convictions. Employers in certain professions or types of work must obtain standard or enhanced checks for their employees and volunteers. When these employers recruit for specific jobs, they are legally entitled to ask about your spent convictions.
AccessNI checks and an employer’s legal requirements
An employer is responsible for knowing when basic, standard or enhanced checks are required for jobs or volunteer roles. There are legal obligations for employers when they recruit.
When asking job applicants about spent and unspent convictions, employers must comply with the law on rehabilitation of offenders.
In most cases, you don’t need to declare a spent conviction to an employer. But some employers are exempt from this rule. They can ask job applicants or volunteers to apply for an AccessNI check which will reveal spent convictions.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (NI) employers and licensors can ask applicants exempted questions for specific roles.
AccessNI basic check
A basic check discloses an individual’s unspent convictions.
AccessNI standard check
A standard check discloses an individual’s full criminal record, including spent and unspent convictions.
AccessNI enhanced check
An enhanced check discloses an individual’s full criminal history including spent and unspent convictions, cautions and any other information that the police consider might be relevant to the job or position.
An employer in regulated activity must obtain an enhanced check for every role. An employer can refuse to employ someone who does not agree to an AccessNI enhanced check.
Applying for a standard or enhanced check
Registered bodies are AccessNI-approved organisations. Only these organisations are authorised to submit applications for standard and enhanced checks. A registered body is:
- an employer, organisation or licensor
- an umbrella body - an organisation which processes criminal record checks on behalf of non-registered organisations
Registered bodies must comply with AccessNI’s code of practice.
Code of practice for registered bodies
The code explains obligations for registered bodies managing standard and enhanced checks. The code ensures that information released in standard and enhanced checks is:
- used fairly
- handled and stored appropriately
- kept for only as long as is necessary, usually six months
- Code of Practice (Department of Justice website)
To reassure people undergoing personal checks, registered bodies must sign and keep:
- a policy statement which confirms they comply with AccessNI’s code of practice
- a security policy statement which explains how they handle and store personal disclosure information
- Sample policy statement for registered bodies (PDF 36 KB)
- Sample security policy for registered bodies (PDF 37 KB)
- Help with PDF files
AccessNI audits registered bodies to ensure they keep accurate, signed security and policy statements.
Employers who receive disclosure certificates must comply with data protection rules.
Summary of AccessNI checks
|Nature of work||Legal obligation||Check|
Working beyond the passenger security check in an airport
(for example, as an airport employee, in a shop or on the runways)
|Department for Transport Regulations||basic|
|Working in a care or residential home with adults||DHSSPS standards||enhanced|
|Working in domiciliary care with adults||DHSSPS standards||enhanced|
|Working in a day care setting with children and childminding||DHSSPS standards||enhanced|
|Taxi driving licence||Road Traffic (NI) Order 1981||enhanced, without a barred list check|
|Fostering of children||Childrens Act 1989 or Childrens(NI) Order 1987||enhanced|
|Adoption of children||Adoption (NI) Order 1987||enhanced|
For some jobs, employers require an AccessNI check in the terms and conditions of employment.
|Nature of work||Type of check|
|Posts in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and certain other public bodies||basic|
|Working within the security guarding industry||
*The Security Industry Authority sponsors this
Employers can recheck their staff. Each employer decides intervals for rechecking. Some employers recheck every two or three years. Others rely on employees declaring any changes to their criminal records.
Can an applicant be given a job if convictions are disclosed?
Unless there is a bar, a conviction should not automatically disqualify an individual. An employer should consider if a conviction is relevant to the post.
Sometimes the applicant is committing an offence by applying for the post. An individual on one or both of DBS’s barred lists is breaking the law if they apply to work in regulated activity.
Complaining about information on a disclosure certificate
If you disagree with information on your certificate, you must write to AccessNI.and raise the complaint as a dispute.