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Running a business

Vulnerable Sector Checks: Who Needs Them and How Do You Get One?

When your company works with vulnerable people, such as children or the elderly, it’s important to hire trustworthy employees. Vulnerable sector checks, which are police-run screenings, make it easier to find great workers who are safe around your clients. Whether you’re hiring nurses’ aides or children’s sports coaches, these checks can help you hire with confidence.

What Is a Vulnerable Sector Check?

A vulnerable sector check is a way for you to find out if an applicant has had problems with the law. The check tells you about a potential employee’s criminal record. It also lets you know if the person has a record of suspension for sexual offences, and it brings up local police records. When you work with people who are vulnerable, including people with disabilities, these checks let you vet your new hires. You can also use the checks to help  reduce possible legal issues when you’re bringing in volunteers.

What Is a Vulnerable Population?

Before you can ask for a vulnerable sector check, it’s important to know whom Canadian law sees as vulnerable. Children under the age of 18 are always included in lists of vulnerable populations. According to Public Safety Canada, your clients are vulnerable if they can’t "protect, defend, or assert themselves, permanently or temporarily." This could be because of age, a disability, or the person’s current circumstances. The government states that someone is vulnerable when they depend on other people, or they are at greater risk for being harmed by someone in authority or trust. If you run a nursing home for senior citizens, you work with a vulnerable population.

Which Employees Need a Vulnerable Sector Check?

The government only allows you to request vulnerable sector checks for specific positions. To see if your applicant qualifies, look at the job responsibilities. Does the job put a person in a position of authority or trust in relation to a vulnerable person? This includes:

  • The power to make decisions
  • Unsupervised access
  • A relationship that requires closeness
  • Personal activities, such as bathing or health care

If your open position includes these activities, you can request that applicants undergo a check. Keep in mind that you’re not required to do so, even if you work with vulnerable populations. Many companies simply choose to run these checks as a way of protecting their clients.

How Do You Get a Vulnerable Sector Check?

If your business is in any province or territory other than British Columbia, you can request a vulnerable sector check through your local police service. To get one, you need to provide the job description, your company name, and information that shows how your clients are vulnerable. The applicant must go to the police station and agree to the check, and they may also need to be fingerprinted. When the process is complete, the police send you the results. The vulnerable sector checks are conducted by position, so one person is applying for more than one job, they need to do multiple checks.

If you work in British Columbia, the process is similar. Instead of the police, contact the British Columbia Criminal Records Review Program.

In most cases, vulnerable sector checks are simple and painless for both you and your applicant. Although they take time, they can be a valuable way to help you feel comfortable in the hiring process.

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