Safety checking requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
Why does this affect General Practice Teams?
The Vulnerable Children Act has come from the Children’s Action Plan, putting processes in place to improve the well-being of vulnerable children.
The key current relevant points for General Practice Teams are:
- ‘Child’ means a person under 18 years
- All new children’s workers (i.e. doctors, nurses, health administrative staff) must have had a safety check completed before they start work
- All current core children’s workers must have a safety check completed before 1 July 2018
- General Practices have the same safety checking responsibilities for contractors and for trainees/students
- Safety checking for GP owners and locums can be done by the Cross Agency Safety Checking Service: owners cannot check themselves, and locums can transfer their check to other employers during the 3-year valid period. Note, this is a user-pays service. For more information, visit the Ministry of Health page (scroll down to “Self-employed, sole practitioners and owner operators – Cross Agency Independent Safety Check Service”) and the CV Check website
- While core children’s workers convicted of specified offences must not be employed or engaged, there is an exemption process available
- Penalties for failing to complete safety checks within required timeframes are significant
- Information about how to safely recruit staff is readily available
Safety checks are required for people who work with children in GPTs. This includes employees, GP owners, contractors and unpaid people working with children as part of an educational or vocational training course. Details of safety check requirements are available from the Oranga Tamariki website and from the Ministry of Health (scroll down to “What does the safety check involve?”).
The specified offences which prevent a core worker from being employed are listed in Schedule 2 of the Act: these are sexual, physical assault and pornography offences.
Fines are up to $10,000 for not complying with safety checking requirements for new staff and existing staff, and for not conducting periodic safety checks. For knowingly or recklessly employing a person as a core children’s worker, if they have a specified conviction and no exemption, the fine is up to $50,000.
- Vulnerable Children Act 2014
- Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations
- Core worker exemptions (Oranga Tamariki website)
- Safer recruitment Safer children; Guidance for choosing safe people to work with children (76-page PDF, 3.2MB)
- Workforce safety checking and child protection policies (Ministry of Health website)
Date posted: 21 September, 2017