How to do safety checking

This page contains detailed guidance on how to carry out the children’s worker safety checking required under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

 What is required for a safety check

The safety checks that need to be done are described in the Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015 (external link) (external link) .

The checking required is the same for both core and non-core children’s workers, although the worker’s role is a factor to consider when assessing risk.

The regulations were put together with advice from people working with children, and include common examples of pre-employment checking good practice:

  • Confirming identity
  • Collecting and considering information, including working history, a referee check, an interview, and checks with professional registration bodies or licensing authorities
  • A New Zealand Police vet (where this hasn’t been done within the previous three years, or by the appropriate registration or licensing body)
  • Assessment of the risk the person would pose to the safety of children.

Organisations also need bring the checks of their current employees up to the new standard over time. However, fewer checks are required for children’s workers who are already employed by an organisation – there is no requirement to conduct interviews, referee checks or seek a work history.

Every three years safety checks will need to be reviewed and updated. This means confirming any changes of name, updating the checks with the relevant professional registration body or licensing authority, getting a fresh Police vet, and doing a risk assessment based on these checks.

Safety checking for new hires must be finished before a person begins working with regular or overnight contact with children. This includes considering the results of the Police vet.

Only the person responsible for the hiring decision and the potential employee should be able to see the safety check information. In all cases the Privacy Act 1993 (external link) (external link) must be observed.

Relying on checks done previously or by others

Organisations can rely on checks that were completed up to three years previously (i.e. for previous employees or contractors starting in a new role/contract) that meet the standard.

If relying on a check done on their behalf by someone else, organisations will need to take some steps to formalise this arrangement, confirm the identity of the children’s worker, and evaluate the information they hold (if any) to assess the risk the person may pose to the safety of children.

Find out more about the steps that need to be taken to rely on checks done by others.

The regulations also specifically allow for organisations to rely on the Police vetting done by registration bodies (e.g., the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand), as long as it is done at least every three years.

Confirming this is as simple as checking that registration is current (which will also meet the requirement to seek relevant information from professional and registration bodies).

Staggering your checking

We recommend that checking of current workers be staggered over the time allowed.

This will help the New Zealand Police manage demand for the vetting service.

Staggering safety checking will also avoid having to do three-yearly rechecks for large numbers of workers at the same time.

Concerns arising from safety checking

Organisations should have clear policies (as part of their child protection policy) about what to do if they have concerns about people applying for roles, and how to respond to concerns about existing workers.

Notify Child, Youth and Family of any suspected child abuse or, if a child is in immediate danger, contact the Police immediately. Child safety is paramount.

The decision to follow-up a concern should be made in consultation with Child, Youth and Family and the Police. This will prevent any investigations from being undermined.

For existing workers, follow any human resources policies and disciplinary procedures, guided by the worker’s employment contract or collective employment contract and relevant statutory obligations.

Summary of the checks required

The table below summarises the checks required for:

  • New children’s workers – anyone applying for a role as a children’s worker.
  • Existing children’s workers – anyone currently employed by an organisation whose checks are being brought up to the required standard.
  • Rechecks – the three-yearly rechecking for each person an organisation intends to continue to employ.

For each part of the check a link to more detailed information is provided.

 

Parts of the safety check

New

Existing

Recheck

1

Identity confirmation, either by:

  1. Use of an electronic identity credential (e.g., the RealMe identity verification service), and a search of personnel records to check that the identity has not been claimed by someone else; OR

  2. Following the prescribed regulatory process by:
  • Checking an original primary identity document.
  • Checking an original secondary identity document.
  • Checking an identity document that contains a photo, or by using an identity referee.
  • Searching personnel records to check that the identity has not been claimed by someone else.

Y

Y

Y

2

An interview of the potential children’s worker.

Y

 

 

3

Obtaining and considering a work history, covering the preceding 5 years.

Y

 

 

4

Obtaining and considering information from at least one referee.

Y

 

 

5

Seeking information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body including (but not limited to) confirming their registration status.

Y

Y

Y

6

Obtaining and considering information from a New Zealand Police vet, unless at least three-yearly New Zealand Police vetting is already a condition of the potential children’s worker holding professional registration or a practicing certificate (and the specified organisation has confirmed that that registration or certificate is current).

Y

Y

Y

7

Evaluation of the above information to assess the risk the potential children’s worker would pose to the safety of children if employed or engaged, taking into account whether the role is a core children’s worker or non-core children’s worker role.

Y

Y

Y

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