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What is a DBS certificate and do I need one to work as a babysitter?

Dec 13, 2021


DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring service and it is a system run by the British government to check criminal records across the country. 


A DBS certificate is a paper document that parents can use to check if you have a criminal record or if you have any criminal convictions or behaviours which might make you a risk of looking after their children. 


A DBS certificate is confirmation of any unspent convictions you had (or hopefully didn’t have) on the day that it was issued.  It doesn’t mean you haven’t done anything wrong in the past and it doesn’t mean that you won’t do anything wrong in the future.


DBS certificates don’t expire - they just show a moment in time.  In most cases as long as the DBS certificate was issued in the last two years it would be considered current.  Much longer than that and you’d think about requesting a new one.


There are 3 different types of DBS certificates issued by the government, 


A Basic DBS

A Standard DBS

An Enhanced DBS


The Standard and Enhanced DBS can only be applied for by an employer - they are typically required for teachers, sports coaches and nannies.


 A Standard DBS certificate will show details of all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings that you might have received in the past. 


An Enhanced DBS certificate shows full details of a criminal record. This includes cautions, warnings, reprimands, spent and unspent convictions. It can also search the children and vulnerable adults 'barred list' to see if you are prohibited from working with these groups of people.


The only one that you can apply for yourself is a Basic DBS. 


So do I need one to work as a babysitter? 


Legally you do not need to have a DBS certificate to work as a sitter.  


In fact the vast majority of sitters working today do not have a DBS certificate.


However, because some roles like nannies or sports coaches do require a DBS certificate parents will often ask and it is easier to answer “Yes I do have one, here it is than it is” to explain the fact that you don’t legally need one.  


Once you have a DBS certificate you will always have an advantage over someone who does not have one, it shows you are not hiding anything and that you take this role really seriously.  


You can note that you have a DBS certificate on your profile and job boards and parents will prioritise you over others that don’t.


Potentially you might be able to charge more like someone that has a DBS certificate versus someone that doesn’t.


We would love to hear from you if parents have requested to see your DBS certificate before you have babysat their children. Let us know in the comments box below.

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