Introduction to this document

Letter requesting basic disclosure certificate

You can ask an employee to voluntarily apply for a basic disclosure certificate for any job role, provided you have a lawful basis for processing criminal convictions personal data, but it's best to only request it where the information is directly relevant to the particular role. Use our letter to ask the employee to apply as it sets out the essential details of where and how they need to apply and what the certificate will contain.

Disclosure options

In England and Wales, there are three levels of criminal record check that can be carried out, i.e. basic disclosure, standard disclosure or enhanced disclosure (which can also include an additional "barred list" check of those unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable adults).

You can only request standard or enhanced disclosure in very limited circumstances and you need to be registered in order to do so, e.g. the individual is going to be working in "regulated activity" with children or vulnerable adults or the job role is covered by the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This includes, for example, medics, lawyers, vets, accountants, teachers, police, probation and prison officers, taxi drivers and air traffic controllers.

Basic disclosure

Conversely, any individual can apply for basic disclosure themselves for any purpose and they currently do this online to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (although they can also choose to apply through a "Responsible Organisation", which is an organisation registered with the DBS to submit basic disclosure checks through a web service). You can't apply on your employee's behalf. This is where our Letter requesting Basic Disclosure Certificate will assist you. Our letter asks the employee to apply online for a basic disclosure certificate and it sets out essential details to help them with the process, such as the fee and the information and documents they will need to have to hand. Our letter also sets out what a basic disclosure certificate will cover. It either contains information about every unspent conviction or unspent conditional caution that an applicant has or alternatively it states that there is no such conviction or caution. Finally, our letter asks the employee to supply you with a copy of the certificate once it's arrived. Make sure that you process criminal convictions personal data in accordance with the terms of your privacy notice and that you have a lawful basis for processing to comply with obligations under the UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Entirely optional

When might you want to ask an employee to apply for basic disclosure using our letter? You shouldn’t ask for it for all job roles as that’s likely to contravene data protection principles which require processing to be limited to what’s necessary. Consider whether it's directly relevant to suitability for the specific post, e.g. the employee is going to be handling money or is otherwise in a position of trust.