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Max – Don’t let the fact that an employer is asking for a DBS check put you off applying for a job

Max contacted our helpline as he needed some help in applying for a new job. In particular, he wanted advice as to what his chances of success would be when an employer saw the details of his criminal record on his Disclosure and Barring certificate which related to a violent offence.

Max explained that he was currently working for the NHS and was really keen to go for a promotion. He had worked for the NHS for a long time and thought that his chances of success were pretty good, although his current employment wasn’t aware of his conviction as it was spent and the role only involving the disclosure of unspent convictions.

He’d also applied for a job with a large telecommunications company and had been invited to attend an interview. Both jobs were office/phone based and both organisations had stated that a DBS check would be required.

Max was extremely concerned that his DBS certificate would disclose his conviction from 2009 and that any job offer would be revoked immediately his employers saw his certificate. He was also worried that his current employer would treat him differently once they become aware of his conviction. Max told us that he was now reconsidering whether to apply for the promotion or attend the interview.

We explained to Max that from the information he had provided, neither job he was applying for would be eligible for a DBS check. However, NHS trusts often use generic application forms (irrespective of the job role) and these tend to state that a DBS check would be needed. We told Max that he shouldn’t assume that a DBS check would be undertaken for the job he was applying for and, he should go ahead and complete the application form without disclosing any details of his criminal record at this stage.

With regard to the telecommunications job, we believed that this would only be eligible for a basic level criminal record check. We explained to Max that if he were applying or jobs which he believed were not exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act then he could challenge the eligibility of these checks with the DBS once an application for a check had been submitted.

We encouraged Max to go ahead with the NHS  application and attend the interview with the telecommunications company. If he were successful, then the employer would usually make it clear at that time what level of criminal record they would be doing.

We assured Max that just because his conviction would show on a DBS certificate, this should not stop him from applying for these types of jobs in the future. It would be necessary for him to disclose his conviction and we gave him some further advice around this.

We spoke to Max a month later and he told us that he had applied for the promotion with the NHS and had been successful.

Max said:

“In the end, the NHS only did a basic check for this job and my certificate came back ‘clean’. If I hadn’t contacted Unlock I doubt whether I would have had the confidence to apply – I just assumed that a DBS check was going to be done”



This case highlights how easy it is to miss out on possible opportunities by making assumptions based on hearsay and inaccurate information. If you feel that you’ve got the necessary skills and experience to do a job, then don’t be put off from applying just because you think that a DBS check will be done.


Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.


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