Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

06th December 2017

How Can We Know What Sort of Staff We Are Recruiting With Limited Reference Information?

Hi Sheila
I have been recruiting for care workers and when we request for references from some providers they say it's company policy to just confirm the dates that the person has worked but not on that person's performance or punctuality or reliability. How can we know then what quality of people we are recruiting?


Dear S,


Thank you for your question. I agree with you that it is sometimes very difficult to be certain about a job application when a company has the policy to just confirm the dates of employment of a former employee.


Schedule 3 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 is about information required in respect of persons employed or appointed for the purposes of a regulated activity. 


1 Proof of identity including a recent photograph.

2 Where required for the purposes of an exempted question in accordance with section 113A(2)(b) of the Police Act 1997, a copy of a criminal record certificate issued under section 113A of that Act together with, after the appointed day and where applicable, the information mentioned in section 30A(3) of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (provision of barring information on request).

3 Where required for the purposes of an exempted question asked for a prescribed purpose under section 113B(2)(b) of the Police Act 1997, a copy of an enhanced criminal record certificate issued under section 113B of that Act together with, where applicable, suitability information relating to children or vulnerable adults.

4 Satisfactory evidence of conduct in previous employment concerned with the provision of services relating to-

(a) health or social care, or

(b) children or vulnerable adults

5 Where a person (P) has been previously employed in a position whose duties involved work with children or vulnerable adults, satisfactory verification, so far as reasonably practicable, of the reason why P's employment in that position ended.

6 In so far as it is reasonably practicable to obtain, satisfactory documentary evidence of any qualification relevant to the duties for which the person is employed or appointed to perform.

7 A full employment history, together with a satisfactory written explanation of any gaps in employment.

8 Satisfactory information about any physical or mental health conditions which are relevant to the person's capability, after reasonable adjustments are made, to properly perform tasks which are intrinsic to their employment or appointment for the purposes of the regulated activity.


I believe that you should have a policy relating to the schedule above and the policy should have what you would do if the process could not be completely adhered to.


Pont 1 is obviously important and you should have some other proof of identity as well as a recent photo such as a photocopy of a passport or a driving license or something similar.


Points 2 and 3 are of course important and must be complied with.


Point 4 you must do your best to get references and where that is challenging you must look to obtain character references and importantly keep a clear record of the steps you have taken to obtain the references.


Point 5 says reasonably practicable.


Point 6 and 8 are straightforward.


Point 7 the references should be the key to this even if they only confirm the dates of employment.


I hope this is helpful and as you know most applications will be straightforward. Where it is not straightforward then comply with your policy in full and keep a full record of how you made your decision to employ.


Best wishes,





*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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