Safer Recruitment Through Better Recruitment

Guidance in relation to the recruitment of staff working in social care, early education and childcare and social work settings

Safer Recruitment_page 1

1. This resource is good practice guidance intended to help employers, especially those in social care, early education and childcare and social work to meet existing legislative and regulatory requirements in relation to the safer recruitment and selection of people who work with individuals who receive support and care from social services in Scotland. This guidance replaces the Scottish Government’s national guidance Safer Recruitment Through Better Recruitment (2007).

The guidance details robust recruitment processes that can help employers ensure that unsuitable staff do not gain access to children or protected adults. Best practice recruitment approaches are crucial to ensure that the right people, with the right skills and values are recruited into roles. The emphasis on values-based recruitment moves the guidance from being focused solely on compliance and protection to one which demonstrates, and will actively support, broader improvements in the delivery of care. We know from scrutiny evidence that there is a close relationship between the quality of staffing in care and the outcomes for people using it. Ensuring that the skills, values and attitudes of potential employees match the post being recruited to is an important element of building a strong, stable staff team which supports better outcomes for people.

It also supports Scottish Ministers' expectation that employers will work towards continuous improvement of their safer recruitment practice in relation to those who will work with the most vulnerable people.

Approaches brought in through the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 are a key plank in stopping people who are unsuitable from gaining access through work to children or protected adults. However, this is only one element of a rigorous safer recruitment and selection process, which goes beyond preventing harm and instead helps to improve the quality of care.

2. This guidance replaces the 2007 guidance and was developed by the Safer Recruitment Group (see membership at Annex A) led by the Scottish Social Services Council and the Care Inspectorate with representation from a wide range of key stakeholders including employers from both the statutory and independent sectors, representatives from the membership umbrella bodies. professionals from social work services and human resources, representation from the regulatory and inspection bodies, Disclosure Scotland and the Home Office. This work is one of the ‘supporting the workforce’ actions from the Social Services in Scotland: a shared Vision and Strategy 2015-2020

3. In areas where there are no statutory provisions, for example the issuing of references, the expectation of regulatory and scrutiny bodies on employers of social service workers has been made more explicit.
Each stage of the recruitment process has been presented sequentially, with ‘key elements’ and ‘further considerations’. This will allow employers to more easily obtain the level of detail they require about a particular issue. Practice examples – such as tools, process maps and materials - from the sector have been included where there is the opportunity to share effective practice, and case scenarios have been included to encourage shared learning and collaborative problem-solving in the sector.

4. This guidance is designed to help employers to:

  • meet legal and regulatory requirements 
  • make sure potential applicants are aware of the organisation’s commitment to the welfare of vulnerable people
  • be satisfied that each candidate has demonstrated their suitability for the specific position
  • be satisfied, as far as possible, at each stage of recruitment and selection that the candidate is safe to practice
  • be satisfied at each stage of the process that the best candidate(s) have been selected to progress to the next stage
  • be satisfied of the candidate’s identify, qualifications, registration and right to work status
  • involve people who use care in recruitment and selection

5. It will also allow employers to achieve positive outcomes for people using care by illustrating effective approaches, as well as reinforcing statutory requirements. The overarching principles are consistent with approaches in health, the forthcoming new National Care Standards, and the SSSC Codes of Practice issued in accordance with the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 and its associated Statutory Instruments.

6. This guidance is however not a comprehensive guide to recruitment and selection or employment issues. It does not cover all issues relevant to that subject. You will need to seek your own human resources or legal advice when appropriate. Neither is it a substitute for training in those areas, or in interviewing and assessment techniques. This guidance does not oblige employers to follow every detail described in each section but is presented to help support effective practice.

7. This guidance has been designed to be most helpful when recruiting staff to work in:

  • a support service 
  • care at home
  • a care home 
  • school care accommodation 
  • a nurse agency
  • a child care agency
  • secure accommodation 
  • offender accommodation 
  • adoption and fostering 
  • adult placement 
  • child minding
  • day care of children
  • housing support
  • social work provision
  • criminal justice social work and community justice.

8. We welcome additional feedback, suggestions, case studies and scenario descriptions for use on the online version of this resource pack.

Annex A: Membership of Group

Glossary and key responsibilities

Contact information

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