General information for AccessNI employers

During recruitment, an employer can ask job applicants or volunteers to get an AccessNI basic check to reveal unspent convictions. Employers in certain professions must get standard or enhanced checks. When these employers recruit for certain 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 necessary for jobs or volunteer roles.  An employer has legal obligations when they recruit.

When asking job applicants about spent and unspent convictions, employers must keep to the law on rehabilitation of offenders.

Checks on EU citizens

AccessNI also checks criminal records of some EU citizens in their home countries.  This happens when the applicant wants to work with children in Northern Ireland and is:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Lithuanian
  • Portuguese
  • Slovakian
  • Spanish

An applicant needs to be checked against the list of people not allowed to work with children.

AccessNI checks UK criminal records and asks for that applicant’s criminal record to be checked in their home country.  If there is any additional information available, this will be disclosed in the AccessNI certificate.

Exempt information

Most job applicants 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) 1978 employers and licensors can ask applicants exempted questions for specific roles.

Enforced Subject Access

Employers cannot ask an employee or job applicant to request information, on their criminal history directly from the police. It is an offence for an employer to do so. If employers need to check criminal history information they must go through Access NI.

Applying for a standard or enhanced check

Registered bodies are AccessNI-approved organisations. Only these organisations are authorised to make applications for standard and enhanced checks.

Rechecking staff

Employers can recheck their staff. An employer decides if they want to have a re-checking policy and intervals for re-checking. Some employers recheck every two or three years. Others rely on employees declaring any changes to their criminal records.

Giving a job to an applicant with convictions

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 the Disclosure and Barring Service's barred lists is breaking the law if they apply to work in regulated activity.

For more information on employing someone with a conviction and the Disclosure and Barring Service, go to:

Complaining about information on a disclosure certificate

If you disagree with information on a certificate, you can raise a dispute with AccessNI.

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