The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 makes vetting mandatory for anyone seeking employment relating to children or vulnerable persons.
(However no commencement date has yet been specified for this legislation(April, 2013))
So, anyone who is involved in ‘any work or activity which is carried out by a person , a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with children’ in
• Health services
• Childcare services
• Residential services for children or vulnerable persons
• The promotion of religious beliefs
• Sporting organisations providing leisure or physical activities to children or vulnerable persons
must, by law, be vetted.
The new vetting legislation does not apply to
• Anyone doing work in a private arrangement, e.g. babysitting
• Persons who assist voluntarily on occasion in schools, community, or sports related activities; this covers one off events or the occasional, irregular assistance
• Persons working within their own family.
It is an offence for an organisation or an employer to employ someone to work with children or vulnerable persons without going through the vetting procedures set out in the Act.
It is important to note that liability rests with the organisation/employer, not the employee.
A new National Vetting Bureau will be set up under the Act which will see the existing Garda Central Vetting unit being renamed.
Vetting applications will need to be sent to the National Vetting Bureau by a relevant organisation or liaison person. The National Vetting Bureau will then issue a vetting disclosure which will include details of any criminal convictions.
Specified Information/ ‘Soft Information’
However, it may also include ‘soft information’ which is specified in the Act which might give rise to concerns about the person working with children or vulnerable persons.
Before the release of ‘soft information’, the Chief Bureau Officer assesses the information and contacts the vetting subject giving him/her a right to make a written submission in relation to the ‘soft information’.
The Chief Bureau Officer can only release ‘soft information’ if
1. He has a bona fide concern about the vetting subject working with children or vulnerable persons and
2. He must be satisfied that disclosure is necessary, proportionate, and reasonable.
The vetting subject must be advised of the intention to release the information and must be given an opportunity to appeal the decision.
Once a disclosure is made, it is up to the organisation/employer to decide whether the information disclosed makes the person unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable persons.
Some industries, such as the teaching profession, have many employees who have not been vetted as they were in their employment before vetting was introduced. This new legislation, when commenced, will provide for retrospective vetting of these employees.