Thursday, April 28, 2016
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 will come into force on 29 April 2016. The purpose of this note is to briefly outline what changes the new legislation will bring and what impact it may have on employers.
The purpose of the Act is to provide a legislative basis for the vetting of individuals who apply for positions of employment which involve children or vulnerable persons.
Previously, individuals were vetted at the discretion of the employer. The Act of 2012 makes vetting mandatory.
Who are children and vulnerable persons?
A child is any person who is under the age of 18.
A vulnerable person is any person (other than a child) who:
which results in that person needing assistance for daily living activities or restricts that person’s ability to protect himself or herself from others.
The legislation makes vetting of individuals that work with children or vulnerable persons compulsory. It is broadly designed and will cover employees, contractors and others, including volunteers in some situations. It refers to “relevant organisations” which are also broadly defined and include employers, employment agencies and providers of internship and education schemes.
Individuals are subject to vetting if they are involved in relevant work or activities relating to children or relevant work or activities relating to vulnerable persons.
The Act is quite prescriptive and refers to the vetting of those involved in schools, hospitals, transport and a number of other areas. Along with these specific categorisations, there are also broader instances where vetting is required. This includes where anyone is engaged in work or activity consisting of the care of children or vulnerable persons, or the supervision of children, subject to the exemptions described below.
Persons Exempt From Vetting
The Act doesn’t apply to private arrangements entered into by an individual with another person in certain narrow circumstances.
The Act also doesn’t apply to persons undertaking relevant work or activities with members of their own family, or with friends or family friends, where it is done voluntarily.
For persons who occasionally assist in school, sports or community activities on a voluntary basis, the Act will only apply where the role of the person involves coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training of children or vulnerable persons.
Liability and Offences For Failure To Vet Persons
It is particularly important to note that it is an offence to fail to vet a person who is working with children or vulnerable people and conviction can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment.
The Vetting Procedure
If your organisation is already registered with the Garda Vetting Unit (now the Garda Vetting Bureau), they do not have to re-register. Once an organisation is registered with the Garda Vetting Bureau they may then send in applications for vetting purposes. Once a vetting application has been received, the Bureau will examine Garda Síochána records to establish whether any criminal records or information exist that could give rise to a bona fide concern that harm could be caused to a child or vulnerable person.
Once the employer receives a vetting disclosure they must give a copy to the applicant, and may use the vetting information to determine whether the applicant is suitable to work with children or vulnerable persons. The Minister for Justice may make regulations in relation to future re-vetting – at the moment, best practice suggests that re-vetting should take place every five years.
Should you have any other questions or wish to speak to anyone regarding the above legislation please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Walshe.