We operate candidate screening as part of our child safeguarding and broader recruitment process. It enables us to identify, triage, and communicate any potential areas in a candidate’s history that we think families should know about.
Our screening process is designed to:
- provide equal opportunities for all candidates
- provide rigorous safeguarding for children
We reject any candidates who we deem to be unsuitable for nannying. We only ever present families with candidates we believe would be suitable childcarers based on our assessments, their records and references, and their childcare experience.
We aim to respect candidates’ legal rights to fair and equal treatment, to uphold high safeguarding standards, and to empower parents to make an informed final decision about any nanny they interview or hire.
Our guiding principles
We require candidates to advise us early on of any potential issues pertaining to historic substance abuse, criminal convictions/cautions, or other relevant information (such as negative Ofsted reports). We then investigate in more detail before making an assessment of their suitability for a nannying role.
This assessment aims to satisfy both a candidate’s legal rights to fair treatment (under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and 2010 Equality Act), and governmental guidelines on our safeguarding duties as a childcare business (July 2018).
We require candidates to provide their ongoing consent for us to share this information with prospective parents, so that we can provide a robust and safe service for families. If a candidate refuses to provide such consent, they will not be allowed to use our services.
How we assess a prospective nanny’s suitability
In keeping with the Disclosure and Barring Service Code of Practice, we do not automatically discriminate against candidates with cautions or historic convictions. We follow the government’s assessment guidelines, which advocate a case-by-case approach to candidates with historic convictions or cautions. We consider:
- the nature of the offence;
- the person’s age at the time of the offence;
- how long ago the offence took place;
- whether it was an isolated offence or part of a pattern of offending;
- its relevance to the post or position in question (i.e. being a nanny); and
- what else is known about the person’s conduct before and since the offence
We apply these same criteria to candidates who have non-criminal but otherwise relevant historic factors in their profile. For instance, a candidate who previously worked as a childminder, or at a nursery which received a negative Ofsted report, or a candidate who has notified us of a previous alcohol or drug dependency.
For substance abuse reported by the candidate or the referee, we differentiate between single-use instances and long-term uses.
- Single-use instances will be assessed under the criminal record guidelines above
- Repeat instances will be typically regarded as a pattern of irresponsible behaviour, resulting in the candidate’s rejection
- Historical dependencies/addictions will be assessed as medical conditions
If a candidate discloses a history of addiction (e.g. alcoholism), we require them to have been sober for at least the last 5 years. This requirement is based on a large-scale longitudinal study which showed 5+ years of abstinence to be a strong predictor of future (ongoing) sobriety. We would require the candidate to provide a specific referee who can evidence the sobriety period (for instance an AA sponsor, a GP).
If the candidate is deemed suitable to progress, their application is then subject to further scrutiny during the remaining training and assessment period, where a high bar is set for their performance. This is applied through our ‘strike’ system, where we monitor things such as assessment performance and punctuality, to ensure each candidate’s suitability. We require candidates with a screened disclosure issue to perform at the highest level, in order to be progressed to meet a family.
Lastly, we require successful screened candidates to allow us to share any disclosure information with parents upfront. Candidates then further discuss any issues with parents at interview. The final decision on the candidate’s suitability belongs to the parent.
Examples of when we might reject a candidate:
- A candidate discloses that they had a conviction for assault 2 years ago. We would expect to reject them on the grounds that previous violent behaviour poses a potential future direct or indirect risk to children in their care, and that there has not been a long enough period of time to establish the behaviour as fully historic.
- A candidate served three months in prison for credit card fraud 5 years ago. We would expect to reject them on the grounds that trust is integral to a nannying job, and that the conviction suggests they are not suitable for working in an unsupervised home environment, where sensitive financial information may be readily available.
Examples of when we might accept a candidate:
- A candidate tells us they were cautioned for affray (an incident involving unlawful or threatened violence) 15 years ago. Since then their record has been clean, and they’ve worked in school in a childcare capacity. We would conduct further investigations to verify the details, then likely put this candidate forward for parents to consider, on the grounds that they’ve demonstrated they’re fully rehabilitated and are suitable for a childcare role.
- A candidate was given community service for shoplifting 20 years ago, and has no other offences since then. We would consider this candidate rehabilitated, and safe to work with children.
- A candidate tells us they’re a recovering alcoholic, but that they’ve been sober for 6 years and one of their referees is their AA sponsor, who can verify this. Furthermore, they’ve worked at a nursery for the past year. We would consider this candidate’s condition to be sufficiently managed, and there to be evidence of their suitability to care for children. We would progress their application, inform any interested parents, and allow them to make an independent assessment.
- A candidate tells us they were given a warning by the police for personal cannabis possession three years ago; they expresses regret, and nothing appears on their criminal record certificate. In this instance we would consider this to be indicative of a historic misdemeanor. This is based on the police’s escalation approach to cannabis possession. We would likely collect a third reference for this candidate, with additional scrutiny around drug history. Should all three referees positively endorse the candidate and their suitability for working with children, then we may progress their application – on the understanding that parents will be entitled to make their own final assessment of the candidate’s suitability.
How is information about potential issues collected and shared?
Our screening process is designed to pick up potential issues as early as possible, with safety-net opportunities built in:
- Candidates are asked to disclose any sensitive issues during the application process. We also require them to give their consent for us to share this information with parents. Without providing such consent, they cannot proceed with their application. This is fundamental to our safeguarding obligations.
- Our team follow up with the candidate to get more details on any disclosure, and we then assess their suitability for the role.
- If we decide to proceed further with the candidate, the next step is to collect references. Referees are asked to provide specific details on issues on the candidate’s suitability, including their behavioural and substance history. We may require an additional, third, strong reference for candidates who have disclosed sensitive issues.
- If the candidate’s references further indicate suitability, we will make the details gathered available to families. We begin the candidate’s biography with a note to parents advising them the candidate has an issue meriting further investigation, and inviting the parent to contact us for details.
- Parents contact us to find out the nature of any issues raised, and we provide the information we’ve gathered, along with our assessment as to the candidate’s suitability.
Our notification process (via candidates’ biographies) aims to ensure parents are always able to investigate any issues through us in detail, before they choose to interview a candidate.
If the parent chooses to proceed with the candidate, an enhanced criminal record check is carried out to verify the information provided. We notify the parents and the nanny of the outcome.
Why we’re allowed to ask sensitive questions about candidates’ pasts
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975 (the “Exceptions Order”) allows employers in safeguarding settings (such as the childcare sector) to require applicants to disclose spent and unspent convictions. Any such information is collected via the enhanced DBS check we process for candidates.
We also request candidates to disclose any such information in advance, along with any relevant medical conditions, so we can discuss the circumstances with them and make an initial assessment of suitability.
Who makes the final decision on a nanny’s suitability?
Families make the final decision on a candidate’s suitability before hiring them. We recognise that different families have different values and priorities, and may approach issues like these differently. For that reason, and because the parent will be the legal employer, the final decision and evaluation of a candidate’s suitability is the parent’s to make.
Our screening process strives to protect children, respect candidates’ rights, and empower families to make informed decisions.
v1.1 Updated 29/03/19