Am I Eligible for a DBS Check as a Volunteer?

volunteer group hands together

If you are thinking about applying for a new position which is unpaid you may have to complete a DBS check.

If you represent an organisation that recruits volunteers, you may need to request that prospective applicants apply for a DBS check

Either way, it’s crucial that you understand everything around volunteers and DBS checks, as not all volunteers are eligible. However, we’ve taken the time to outline all you need to know, given that we’re experts on DBS check applications for individuals and employers.

DBS Checks for Volunteers

There are occasionally a few question marks around whether someone is eligible for a volunteer DBS check. The fact is, only volunteers who meet specific criteria will be eligible for a DBS check.

Here is a snapshot of the criteria which a volunteer must meet:

  • They must be a ‘volunteer’ in accordance with the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002. In other words, they must be an individual that spends time, unpaid (except for approved expenses and travel) doing something to aid a third party, and not a relative.
  • They must meet the Standard and Enhanced DBS eligibility requirements. Essentially, if the voluntary role involves working with children or vulnerable adults in a regulated activity, they are eligible for both Enhanced and Standard DBS checks.

How Much Does a DBS Check Cost for Volunteers?

There is no DBS check cost for volunteers.

Organisations are, however, responsible for the administration costs if they use an umbrella company such as ourselves. 

With an umbrella company like ourselves, the administration fees are as follows for voluntary positions:

  • Standard DBS check: £24
  • Enhanced DBS check: £24.83

Basic DBS checks cost £23 regardless of whether the applicant is a volunteer or not, as they can be requested for any job position. However, some voluntary roles require a higher level of check.

Organisations have to take responsibility for their volunteers in the same way they would for staff employed on a full-time basis. So the right level of DBS checks should be carried out (if they are required).

The decision about whether someone is required to apply for a DBS or not rests on what type of work they will be doing. The fact that applicants are not being paid is almost irrelevant in deciding which check is required.

Do All Volunteers Need DBS Checks?

There are some instances where volunteers will not be eligible for DBS applications. There may be some ambiguity around this so if a volunteer were to apply for a Standard or Enhanced DBS check, and subsequently, does not fit the criteria, the DBS may recover the administration costs. 

Applicants are not eligible for a volunteer DBS check application form if they are:

  • Joining a company on a work placement.
  • Applying for a trainee position that will lead to a full qualification or full-time employment.
  • Attending a course which requires them to perform tasks within this role.
  • Receiving any payment or commission that doesn’t include travel expenses or other out-of-pocket reimbursements.
  • Benefiting directly from the position for which the application is being submitted.

Which DBS Check do Volunteers Need?

Organisations may require individuals to apply for either a:

If the role involves carrying out regulated activities involving children or vulnerable adults, it will be one of the above types of DBS check. However, the level of check will vary depending on what is expected of the applicant.

Both Standard and Enhanced checks cannot be requested by individuals themselves. They must be requested by the organisation they are applying to volunteer in. 

It’s also important to mention that Basic DBS checks are not available for volunteers individually, but if a charity or organisation did require a Basic DBS application (for staff or volunteers) they could do so here.

How to Apply for a Volunteer DBS Check

The DBS process is very much the same for employers as it is for paid staff. The applicant is provided with an application form to fill out, which should be returned with valid identification. Once the DBS receives this information, they will process it at the required level. 

Once that’s completed, they will issue a DBS certificate at the appropriate level, directly to the applicant and the charity or organisation.

If you have any questions about DBS checks and whether a role falls into the category of voluntary or not, please contact us today.

Posted in blog, DBS Check