Checking job applicants, employees and volunteers

When an employer needs criminal record information about a job applicant or volunteer, they must get the right level of check for the individual. If the employee or volunteer is from overseas, AccessNI might be able to provide some criminal record information about the individual.

Checks for employees and volunteers

All employers can ask an individual to apply for a basic check which will disclose their unspent convictions. Certain employers must get higher level checks for their employees and volunteers.  

Employers mustn't ask an employee or volunteer for a subject access disclosure.

Reusing disclosure certificates

AccessNI disclosure certificates are only accurate on the issue date. 

A basic disclosure certificate is a statement showing an unspent criminal record or lack of criminal record, at a particular time. Disclosure certificates should be used immediately. With a dated certificate, there's a risk that the applicant’s criminal record has changed.

You should be cautious about accepting dated checks or transferring disclosure certificates to later roles or jobs. Before you accept a previously issued basic disclosure certificate, you should also consider if:

  • your organisation has a legal obligation to get a fresh disclosure
  • the identity details on the certificate match those of the applicant
  • the disclosure certificate is genuine and has not been tampered with
  • the level of certificate is suitable for the post 

Standard or enhanced certificates should not be re-used as each application should be counter-signed by a registered person for the specific role or position.

Security features on an AccessNI disclosure certificate

An AccessNI certificate has security features to verify if it has been counterfeited or altered.

A certificate printed on paper has the watermark 'DOCUCHECK' which reads 'NOT AN ORIGINAL' when copied.

A digital certificate has a watermark which indicates 'Valid certificate - unless printed'.

If you aren't sure an AccessNI certificate is genuine or if you think that it may have been altered, contact:

Filtered checks

Some convictions and cautions are removed from AccessNI standard and enhanced checks. This is filtering. Filtered information doesn't appear on a disclosure certificate. 

To read more about filtering, go to:

Errors in an application for a check

Make sure you give accurate, legible information to AccessNI. If there's an error on an application, AccessNI will reject the application and return it to the registered body.

If there are differences between information on the application and identity documents supplied that aren't fraudulent, the registered body should tell the applicant.

Don't amend the application form without the applicant's agreement, as this invalidates their declaration on the form.

Don't process an application if you think an applicant has given a false identity document To report identity fraud, contact:

Employing someone with a criminal conviction

If a job applicant’s criminal conviction is disclosed, an employer should consider its relevance to the job.

If the applicant is on a barred list, they are breaking the law when they apply to work or volunteer with vulnerable groups in regulated activity.

To read guidance about employing someone with a conviction that happened during Northern Ireland's troubles, go to:

Checking applicants from overseas

AccessNI cannot access criminal records held overseas, unless the applicant is doing regulated work with children and is: 

  • German
  • Lithuanian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • French
  • Italian
  • Slovakian
  • Bulgarian
  • Hungarian
  • Latvian
  • Polish
  • Romanian

You can send an application while the individual is overseas.

Police National Computer

If you're recruiting people who are abroad, an AccessNI check might reveal overseas criminal records held on the Police National Computer. As AccessNI can't usually access criminal records held overseas, an AccessNI check might not give an individual's full criminal record.

If you want to employ someone from another country and need a criminal record for them, go to:

Certificate of good conduct

An employer can ask a job applicant from overseas to provide references and a certificate of good conduct. This should be an original letter or certificate on letterhead from an embassy or High Commission. The certificate should be a certified translation in English. 

The standard of foreign police checks varies according to criminal record systems used. AccessNI doesn't translate documents.

Checking an applicant's right to work in the UK

An employer is always responsible for making sure their employees have valid work visas to work in the UK.

Portable checks

Employers in England and Wales accept portable disclosure certificates. If an English or Welsh person applies for a role in Northern Ireland using a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) portable check, an employer can still ask them to get an AccessNI check.

Checking an applicant’s identity

An employer should verify each employee’s identity. This involves checking proof of their:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • permanent address on a utility bill (gas, electric, landline telephone)
  • photographic ID on a current passport or driving licence

For guidance on checking an employee's identity, go to:

To read guidance for checking a British passport, go to:

Checks for staff and volunteers going overseas

If you're sending staff or volunteers from Northern Ireland to work with children or vulnerable adults in other countries, you might need to arrange a criminal record check for each individual. To identify when an employer, charity or aid organisation in Northern Ireland needs to do a criminal record check, go to:

More useful links

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