MS Society Disclosure policy and procedure - Scotland

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1 MS Society Disclosure policy and procedure - Scotland Disclosure policy 1 Purpose and scope 1.1 The objectives of this policy and procedure are to ensure: the vulnerable groups who use our services and our volunteers are protected by preventing unsuitable people from posing a risk to them effective procedures exist for dealing with issues relating to disclosure checks all employees and volunteers are treated fairly, transparently and consistently all employees and volunteers are clear about their responsibilities around disclosure checks the Society complies with all legislation throughout the nations, relating to disclosure checks. 1.2 This policy and procedure should be read in conjunction with the MS Society s Recruitment of Ex-Offenders policy and procedure. 1.3 This policy applies to MS Society volunteers, employees and agency workers across Scotland. Section 10 covers individuals who provide a service to a branch or group. 2 Definitions 2.1 Disclosure services Government disclosure services help organisations identify people who are not suitable for certain roles that involve contact with vulnerable groups. Scotland: the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme is administered by Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services. In this policy and procedure disclosure check is used as a collective term for all checks carried out. 1

2 2.2 Regulated activity/work Regulated work - Scotland Regulated work is defined by the following basic principles: It has to be work (i.e. not personal relationships) It has to be with either children or protected adults It has to be part of the employees or volunteer s normal duties The activities or service is offered specifically to protected adults (i.e. not to the general public who might include a protected person) The employee or volunteer has the possibility for unsupervised contact with a protected adult The employee or volunteer is responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of protected adults, or where there is a level of trust between the employee or volunteer and the protected adult. It is intended to exclude positions where there is no possibility for contact or trust, or where contact is only fleeting. Regulated work may involve any of the following activities: Caring for protected adults/children or young people Teaching, instructing, training or supervising protected adults/ children or young people Being in sole charge of protected adults/children or young people Providing assistance, advice or guidance to a protected adult/ child or young person or particular protected adults/child or young person which relates to physical or emotional well-being, education or training Inspecting adult or child care services (including inspecting any premises used for the purposes of providing such services) Day-to-day supervision or management of employees or volunteers doing regulated work. 2.3 Vulnerable groups Children A child is anyone who is below the age of 18. In Scotland, it is possible for 16 and 17 years to be both children and protected adults. The assessment as to whether or not they are protected adults is no different to that undertaken in respect of any other adults Protected adult - Scotland A protected adult is defined as a person aged 16 or over who receives one or more type of health, care or welfare service either regularly or for a short period of time. 2

3 Under this definition, people with physical or mental health conditions are not vulnerable adults just because of their condition. A person will only be a protected adult for the duration that they are receiving the service. Therefore some adults will be protected most of the time (e.g. residents in a care home whilst in the care home) whereas others will only be protected for short periods (e.g. whilst receiving treatment at the dentist). The purpose of this definition is to avoid labelling adults as vulnerable and needing protection solely on the basis of having a specific condition or disability. Adults with MS are not automatically classed as a protected adult under this definition. 2.4 Barred lists The Scotland Disclosure Service holds two lists of people barred from working or volunteering in regulated activity/work one relating to children and one relating to adults. Any organisation which knowingly allows a barred person to engage in regulated activity/work will be breaking the law. 3 Policy principles The following principles underpin this policy and accompanying procedure: All employees, volunteers, workers and self-employed individuals will be aware of the policy and procedures for disclosure checks The MS Society will carry out an assessment for each role to determine whether a disclosure check is needed and at what level i.e. standard, enhanced check only, enhanced check plus barred list check or PVG check. In Scotland, employees, volunteers, workers and self-employed individuals engaged in regulated work are required to be members of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, to ensure they are not barred from Regulated Work All information relating to disclosure checks will be kept confidential and stored and destroyed in line with the Data Protection Act and relevant Code of Practice The MS Society is committed to complying with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and will not automatically prevent anyone with a criminal record from taking on role. Where a disclosure is made, a risk assessment will be carried out to decide whether it is appropriate for the individual to volunteer or work in that role Any employee, worker, or volunteer, who is barred from working or volunteering with vulnerable adults or children, will not be able to engage in regulated work or activity. It is a legal offence for the MS Society to knowingly allow a barred person to take on this work/activity Policies and procedures around disclosure checks should be considered within the context of the MS Society s wider recruitment and safeguarding processes.. 3

4 3.1 Advice The HR team are available to provide support and procedural guidance throughout the disclosure process on issues affecting employees. The Volunteering Team are available to provide support and procedural guidance throughout the disclosure process on issues affecting volunteers and individuals who provide a service to a branch or group. For issues specific to Scotland support and guidance is available from the Volunteer Development Manager and Head of Operations, Scotland. For full details see the contact information section at the end of this policy. 3.2 Timescales All timescales in this policy refer to calendar days. All timescales will be met as far as is reasonably practicable. Timescales may only be varied where this has been agreed in advance by the Head of HR and/or the Head of Volunteering Disclosure procedure 4 Recruitment 4.1 Employees and volunteers in Scotland engaged in regulated work are required to be members of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme. 4.2 The MS Society has identified which jobs and roles require a disclosure check and at what level see appendix 1 for a current list. This will apply to new starters and individuals moving roles and will be reviewed regularly and amended where needed. 4.3 The Society will carry out an assessment for each new employee or volunteer role to determine whether a check is needed and at what level. The assessment will take into account: current legislation the nature of the role and the level of contact with vulnerable groups whether the role is supervised. 4.4 As roles and activities vary across the MS Society there may be other jobs/ roles that need a disclosure check and are not covered in appendix 1.These checks will be assessed and carried out as and when required. 4.5 The MS Society is committed to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and will not ask anyone to undergo the disclosure process where they are not eligible or where it is not appropriate. 4

5 4.6 In Scotland, Disclosure Scotland requires that all job/role descriptions clearly show why a PVG check is needed. 4.7 Employees and volunteers will not be asked to apply for a disclosure check during the initial recruitment process. A disclosure form will only be sent out after the interview process or at the point the role is offered. Guidance will always accompany disclosure forms. 4.8 All employees and volunteers, whose role has been identified as needing a disclosure check, must go through the process. Where someone is new to the organisation the role will be offered subject to a completed disclosure check If an existing employee or volunteer refuses to apply for a disclosure, the disciplinary procedure may be used for employees and the Resolving Volunteer Issues and Concerns policy (RVIC) for volunteers. 4.9 Any employee, worker or volunteer who has lived for significant periods of time outside Scotland should adhere to the process detailed in the relevant guidance/information notes which accompany the application form The MS Society has a responsibility to make sure that any disclosure checks that are carried out relate to the right person. As part of this process anyone applying for a check must prove their identity by showing a number of documents to a representative of the MS Society. The representative will depend on the role and where the person is based. For example: Branch volunteers in Scotland Volunteer Development Manager and employees trained for this process Trustees Governance team Employees HR, Nation Directors, Executive Assistants for relevant nation and line managers for home based employees and branch based staff. Where the appointed representative is unable to carry out the identity check (e.g. they are a relative of the person who needs a check), employees and volunteers should seek advice from the National Office team for full details see the contact information section at the end of this policy It may be possible for an employee or volunteer to start in a role before their disclosure check has been completed if the risks to vulnerable people can be managed. However, a risk assessment must be carried out by their lead volunteer /line manager and the employee/volunteer must be supervised at all times by someone who has an up-to-date disclosure check For certain circumstances, there may be external requirements or legislation that means an individual is not permitted to start in role before their check is through. The MS Society will comply fully with these requirements. 5

6 4.13 In Scotland, the collator receives a copy of the PVG form as well as the individual Any employee or volunteer, who is barred from working or volunteering with vulnerable adults or children, will not be able to engage in regulated work or activity. It is a legal offence for the MS Society to knowingly allow a barred person to take on this work/activity Disclosure services process checks for volunteers free of charge. However a fee is charged for processing forms for employees. This cost is covered by the MS Society. See section 10 for individuals who provide a service. 5 Accepting previous disclosures 5.1 In Scotland an individual is required to carry out their own initial and update check. 5.2 An identity check must be carried out by the relevant representative of the MS Society (see section 4.10) to ensure the individual being checked is the same person that is named on the disclosure certificate. 5.3 Where the status check reveals that the disclosure certificate is no longer current the individual must apply for a new disclosure check. 5.4 In Scotland, it is illegal for an individual to not carry out their own initial or update check. 5.5 If an employee or volunteer has a PVG check for their current role and moves into another role that requires a check, an up-date check will be carried out in line with legislation in Scotland. 5.6 Where individuals are already a PVG Scheme member, the MS Society will apply for a scheme record up-date. 5.7 The MS Society is committed to remaining up-to-date with changes in law and best practice regarding accepting previous disclosures and will ensure processes meet current requirements. 6 Retrospective checks 6.1 In order to meet its legal obligations, the Society may need to carry out retrospective disclosure checks. 6.2 Before these checks are carried out, the reasons for requiring a disclosure will be clearly explained with reference made to the Society s disclosure policy and procedures. 6.3 The MS Society in Scotland will work to the timescales set out by government to move existing volunteers and employees on to the PVG Scheme. 6

7 6.4 If an employee or volunteer is found to be under investigation by the Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services, the issue will be discussed with the person and a risk assessment will be carried out by the counter signatory to determine the most appropriate course of action. It may be that the person is moved to other duties or suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. 7 Renewing checks 7.1 In Scotland, an individual s scheme membership is automatically up-dated if their circumstances change (e.g. they are convicted of a crime). If a person s status in the PVG scheme changes, the MS Society will be informed by Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services. 7.2 Where the MS Society is up-dated about a person s criminal record a risk assessment will be carried out by the counter signatory. 7.3 When a person leaves the MS Society, PVG Scheme Scotland must be notified. 8 Storage and handling of disclosure information 8.1 All information (both paper and electronic) relating to disclosure checks will be kept confidential and stored or destroyed in line with the Data Protection Act and relevant Codes of Practice for that nation. 8.2 In line with the Police Act 1997, information is only received by those who are authorised to receive it. The authorised post holders are Lead Signatory Chief Executive Counter signatories Head of HR Head of Volunteering Volunteering Development Manager (Scotland) Collator (Scotland) 8.3 In Scotland, a copy of the certificate will be kept until the individual leaves the organisation. 8.4 The MS Society will ensure that no reproductions of disclosure information are made including photocopies or scanned images, unless the prior agreement of the relevant disclosure service is obtained. 8.5 All disclosure information will be kept securely and access will be strictly controlled and restricted to those who are responsible for implementing disclosure checks as part of their duties. Paper copies will be kept in lockable, non-portable cabinets and electronic information will be stored in restricted, password protected folders. 7

8 8.6 Information revealed through a disclosure check will only be shared with people directly responsible for the recruitment of the individual and on a needto-know basis. For example: for branch and group based volunteer roles no disclosure information will be sent or communicated to anyone within the branch or group without it first being discussed with the person involved an employee s line manager will only be informed of the offence if it is directly connected with the role 8.7 The MS Society recognises that it is a criminal offence to: pass on disclosure information to anyone who is not authorised to receive it, without the consent of the individual knowingly make a false statement for the purpose of obtaining or enabling another person to obtain a disclosure. 8.8 Individuals should not discuss details of their previous criminal history with employees and volunteers outside of the National Office team - for full details see the contact information section at the end of this policy. 8.9 Employees responsible for the administration of disclosure checks will keep a tracking log for each check so that the progress of the application can be identified at any stage of the process. All logs will be kept in restricted access and password protected folders The Society will ensure that all disclosure information is destroyed in a secure manner (i.e. shredding, pulping or burning) and is not kept in any insecure place while awaiting destruction. Before destroying the disclosure the Society will keep an electronic record of the applicants: name and address date of birth role disclosure number and date of issue level of check details of any risk assessment and decision taken 9 Dealing with individuals with a criminal history 9.1 The MS Society is committed to complying with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and will not automatically prevent anyone with a criminal history from taking on a role. 9.2 Employees and volunteers are required to self-declare any convictions or cautions which would not be filtered in line with current guidance. For full details, see the MS Society s policy on the Recruitment of Ex-Offenders. 8

9 9.3 Where a disclosure is returned with a record, a risk assessment will be carried out by the counter signatory to decide whether it is appropriate for the individual to take on (or continue) in that role. The risk assessment will take in to account a number of factors, including: the seriousness of the offence the relevance of the offence to the role the length of time since the offence occurred the frequency of the offences. 9.4 Where information on the disclosure is accurate and the outcome of the risk assessment is negative there may be an opportunity for the person to carry out a different role for the Society. However, there may be times when an individual will not be able to work or volunteer for the MS Society in any role. This decision is final and cannot be appealed. For more information see the Recruitment of Ex-Offenders policy and procedure. 9.5 Any volunteers or employees found to be barred by Disclosure Scotland will not be able to engage in (or will be removed from) regulated activity/work. An organisation which knowingly allows a barred person to work or volunteer in regulated activity/work will be breaking the law. 9.6 If an employee or volunteer is found to be under investigation by Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services, the issue will be discussed with the person and a risk assessment will be carried out by the counter signatory to determine the most appropriate course of action. It may be that the person is moved to other duties or suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. 9.7 If the MS Society dismisses or removes someone from regulated activity/ work (or would have done so had the person not already left) because: they harmed, or pose a future risk of harm to vulnerable groups, the Society is legally required to forward information about that person to the relevant disclosure service (i.e. Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services). It is a criminal offence not to do this. 9.8 The Head of HR/Volunteering will sign off all reports made to disclosure services. 9.9 It might be that an employee or volunteer s criminal history is revealed outside of the disclosure check process. For example, a volunteer might disclose details of their criminal history to an employee/another volunteer or a third party might reveal this information. In all cases (even if the role does not need a disclosure check) the National Office team should be informed as soon as possible, so that a full risk assessment can be carried out - for full details see the contact information section at the end of this policy. 9

10 9.10 For full details, see the MS Society s policy on the Recruitment of Ex- Offenders. 10 Individuals who provide a service for a branch or group 10.1 All individuals who provide a service, who will be working closely and regularly with vulnerable groups, will need to have the appropriate disclosure check i.e. PVG check This includes, but is not limited to, roles such as exercise instructors, yoga teachers, physiotherapists or hairdressers. The MS Society has identified which roles require a disclosure check and at what level see appendix 1 for a current list If the individual being checked receives any payment from the Society or person using the service, the PVG Scheme will charge a fee for processing the form. This is the case even if the individual charges a very small amount or they lower their prices. The applicant is responsible for the cost, but the branch or group can cover this fee if they wish. 11 Support for employees and volunteers 11.1 Induction for all employees and volunteers will include an awareness of the Society s policies to protect vulnerable groups Employees and volunteers who have responsibilities under the disclosure policy and procedure (i.e. identity checkers and counter signatories) will have appropriate briefings, guidance and support. Other relevant policies Safeguarding adults policy and procedure (Scotland) Safeguarding children and young people policy and procedure (Scotland) Resolving Volunteer Issues and Concerns Recruitment of Ex-Offenders policy and procedure Relevant legislation Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Police Act 1997 Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 Data Protection Act 1998 Contact information Scotland Volunteering Development Manager,

11 Appendices Appendix 1 Roles that require a disclosure check Appendix 2 Disclosure Update Service checklist Appendix 3 The disclosure process: Scotland Appendix 4 The disclosure process: employees Policy agreed by EG May 2014 Policy to be reviewed May

12 Appendix 1 - Roles that require a disclosure check Volunteer roles Trustees Transport Officer, Driver, Escort Support Volunteers (including Lead Support Volunteer, Support Volunteer, Support Officer, Mutual Support - support team) Social Secretary, Activities Co-ordinator & Events Organiser (where they attend events/activities) Day Centre volunteers Event volunteers Activities volunteers This list is not exhaustive. Individuals who provide a service for a branch or group Physiotherapist Therapist Counsellors Nail technician Exercise instructor Yoga teacher Hairdressers This list is not exhaustive. Employee roles Transport Manager Drivers Scotland only Administrative Manager MS Centre Support Assistant to PA Area Development Officer Head of Policy & Communications Information Manager SRC Resource Centre Co-ordinator Regional Programme Co-ordinator Service Development Officer Volunteer Development Manager Head of Operations 12

13 This list is reviewed regularly and updated where needed. For the most up-to-date information please contact the HR team for employee roles and the Volunteering team for volunteer roles/individuals who provide a service. 13

14 Appendix 2 - Disclosure Update Service checklist This checklist is to assess whether the HR/Volunteering team can accept a previous disclosure, as part of the Update Service. If the certificate is accepted then the MS Society can carry out a status check online. Applicant s name Applicant s role Date checklist completed Question Details Is the individual able to present an original copy of the previous disclosure (not a photocopy)? Have they got all the pages of the previous disclosure? Is the disclosure certificate in the same name as the ID the individual is able to provide? Is the certificate for the right workforce? i.e. Adult, Child, Child & Adult, Other Is the certificate the right type? i.e. Enhanced Standard Does the certificate include a check or the right barred list? i.e. Child Adult, both or none Are you legally entitled to see all the information contained on the certificate? The disclosure should be purple and green and have a water mark in the top right hand corner. The number of pages are indicated on the first page of the certificate, on the left hand side The individual will need to provide various forms of ID (see Witnessing a disclosure application form) to prove their identity when using the Update Service. This is indicated in the Position Applied For section On the first page, on the left hand side, it should say Enhanced or Standard Disclosure This is indicated on the bottom half of the certificate, within the purple boxes For example, If the certificate contained a check of the child barred list, but the role did not require this, you would not legally be able to view the certificate Do you have the applicant s consent to carry out a status check using the update service? 14

15 Individual s name Date of birth Certificate reference number Any convictions? If yes please complete Selfdeclaration form 15

16 Appendix three - The disclosure process: Volunteers (Scotland) 16

17 Appendix four - The disclosure process: Employees Self-employed individuals Employees Request submitted to the Volunteering team Conditional offer made to applicant Disclosure application form and accompanying information sent to individual Disclosure form sent out to applicant by HR or Scotland Executive Assistant Disclosure form completed by individual and witnessed by chair (or other committee member). Form returned to Volunteering team with payment included. On day 1, new starter submits completed disclosure form and ID. Documentation is checked by HR, Scotland Executive Assistant for or line manager for home based/ branch based staff. Volunteering team check all details are correct, sign form and send off to PVG. HR or Executive Assistant check all details, sign form and send off PVG. PVG sends out certificate. If there are no convictions, a confirmation letter is sent out (for individuals providing a service a copy is also sent to chair) Disclosure comes back with a record. Counter signatory contacts employee and carries out risk assessment. Applicant informed of the decision. 17

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