Recruitment During COVID-19

This edition's expert advice from Keebles LLP comes from Partner and Head of Employment, Catherine Wilson. Here, she discusses key factors care sector employers must consider when recruiting amid COVID-19.

required qualifications, competences and skills, and are able to perform the tasks that will be required of them. The employer must continue to closely monitor the performance of employees.

The current health crisis has caused demand for workers in the care sector to soar. Employees facing widespread job losses elsewhere in the economy may be expected to fill this gap. However, despite this rise in demand for care workers, employers must ensure that they comply with their legal obligations and not cut corners in the recruitment process.

Care homes perform a crucial role in caring for older people when they are most vulnerable. It is crucial that care home managers can trust their employees and the only way they can do this is by implementing safeguarding measures.

The first, and perhaps most significant, requirement of any employer in the care home sector is the requirement to ensure a DBS check is carried out. The recruitment team needs to undertake a DBS check on any prospective employee as well as a check against the adults barred list.

The adults barred list is a list maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) of individuals who are barred from working with vulnerable adults. An appropriate record of these checks also needs to be maintained and updated, as necessary.

Employers also need to consider references for new starters. It is good practice for all employers, irrespective of sector, to obtain and retain pre-employment references. The care industry is one of the few industries where there is a legal obligation on employers to provide employee references. The reason for this is that, under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, regulation 19, employers in the care industry have an express legal obligation to ensure that the people they employ are ‘fit and proper persons’.

Employers should use references provided to ensure prospective employees are of good character, have the

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Organisations must also ensure that staff rights regarding contracts are respected. Some care home staff are considered to have the legal status of workers rather than employees. Particular attention should be paid to the changes that came into force on 6th April 2020.

Employers now must give a statement of main terms and conditions to workers as well as employees. Most written particulars must be provided in a single document on or before the date on which the employment starts, rather than within two months.

There has been an extension as to what must be included in the written particulars. They now must include:

• Details on the eligibility for paid leave, such as sickness absence and maternity leave.

• The duration and conditions of any probationary period. • All payment and benefits.

• The specific days and times an employee must work and whether their working hours are variable.

• Any training entitlements.

It’s also important to ensure that the contracts give the employer the flexibility required. Employers should ensure that the probationary periods are long enough and sufficiently well managed to allow them the time to form a judgment on the merits of the new employee.

Employers must also ensure that they provide flexibility regarding their hours of work to enable them to respond to future changes in demand. For example, when we eventually begin to see an end to COVID-19.

If you are an employer and need further support around managing the recruitment process, contact Catherine Wilson at or call 0114 252 1414.

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