What are the main obligations on employers in relation to vetting and barring under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) maintains lists of people barred from working with children and vulnerable adults. An employer that knowingly allows a barred individual to work in a "regulated activity" with children or vulnerable adults commits a criminal offence (see Under the vetting and barring scheme, what constitutes "regulated activity" in relation to children? and Under the vetting and barring scheme, what constitutes "regulated activity" in relation to vulnerable adults?). Where a post amounts to a regulated activity, the employer can apply for an enhanced DBS check, which can include information held on the lists of barred individuals.

Employers, local authorities and employment businesses and agencies are under a duty to pass information about certain individuals to the DBS. The duty to refer information arises where an employee in a regulated activity has resigned or been dismissed, or would or could have been dismissed, because he or she has harmed, or may harm, a child or vulnerable adult. From 10 September 2012, the duty to refer information to the DBS no longer applies in relation to individuals carrying out "controlled activities", ie roles that are not regulated activities but that allow holders the opportunity to have contact with vulnerable groups or to have access to certain records relating to vulnerable groups.

The 2006 Act applies to England and Wales, and to some extent to Northern Ireland. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 (SI 2007/1351) largely replicates provisions in the Act that do not extend to Northern Ireland. Separate arrangements apply in Scotland (see Employment law manual > Recruitment and selection > Key differences in Scotland and Northern Ireland).