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Recruitment of staff and volunteers – Minimum requirements

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Recruitment guidance for staff & volunteers (updated Sep 2020)

We aim to set and maintain the highest of standards around keeping children and young people safe.  Strong recruitment practices are a key element of safeguarding children and young people and in building trust with families. Please refer to your own detailed safeguarding and child protection policies and the separate resource section on safeguarding for more information.

Your organisation should have a clear recruitment process, describing the steps in the process, who should be involved and how long it will take.

Some partners involve young people in the recruitment process to highlight that young people’s contributions and opinions are highly valued.

The following guidelines should be followed for recruiting every role, whether paid or voluntary. Each partner charity must have sufficient opportunity to identify adults whose involvement with children would be inappropriate, and comprehensive recruitment and screening processes are key to this.

Screening will take place when applicants are being recruited for a new role (as a relevant member of staff or as a volunteer mentor) and will continue at regular intervals throughout the individual’s engagement with the charity.

Before an individual is offered a role as a mentor or member of staff, they must be screened through the following mixture of formal information gathering and subjective assessment:

Minimum standards

  1. Completed application form and identification check

Every volunteer or staff member should complete an application form and provide photographic identification confirming they are over 18 years old. The form should request personal details, experience, reasons for applying and contact details for two personal references. Volunteer Scotland provides a sample application form which can be found in this section.

  1. PVG Scheme Record check

You should make clear early in the recruitment process that membership, or a check on existing membership, of the Protection Vulnerable Groups Scheme operated by Disclosure Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government is required.

Volunteering as a mentor is classed as ‘regulated’ work under the Protection Vulnerable Groups Scheme. More information can be found here:

It is good practice to provide a confidential form to allow applicants to disclose any criminal convictions. People working with children are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and must disclose all convictions even if they are ‘spent’. Convictions for certain offences will mean an individual would automatically be ‘barred’ from membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme.

It is illegal to employ someone to work with children who has been barred and it is illegal for the individual to apply for such a post. It is therefore essential that you are aware and take account of the detailed advice and procedures described by Disclosure Scotland. Find out more information at

Additional training by Disclosure Scotland was provided to the portfolio and the slides can be found here:

Disclosure Scotland – May 2017 portfolio day

Disclosure Scotland – March 2017 portfolio day

Handout: Regulated Work -Children

Handout: Regulated Work – Adults

You can also call the Disclosure Scotland helpline on 0870 609 6006.

A completed PVG Scheme check is required prior to starting any mentoring work.

  1. Personal References

The two personal referees provided should be contacted and asked to provide a written reference prior to the staff member or volunteer starting in the role. The people providing the references should not be related to the applicant. If possible, they should be able to provide first-hand knowledge of the applicants work with children and young people

  1. Interview

An interview with the applicant must be undertaken, part of the purpose of which is to identify if there are any safeguarding reasons why the applicant should not be selected.

  1. Training in Safeguarding & Child Protection

As part of an extensive training programme prior to becoming a mentor, training in safeguarding and child protection must be given. Refresher training on Child Protection should be provided at a minimum every two years for staff and volunteers.

  1. Sign off after completion of training

At the end of the initial training, all trainers involved must confirm that they have seen nothing in the applicant’s behaviour or attitude which give them concerns. Most partners use their mentor training sessions as an extended selection process to ensure they have enough time to get to know the applicant and their values. Holding a sign off interview/chat with volunteers after training allows them to explore any areas of concern for either party and to document their decision process.

  1. Code of Conduct

All new staff and volunteers must sign up to a code of conduct, one copy of which is to be retained by the charity. Examples of Code of Conduct Forms, Mentoring Agreements and Volunteer Agreement forms can be found in this section.

  1. Ongoing screening and support

Screening of the mentor or member of staff will continue throughout their engagement with the charity. This should be incorporated within regular support and supervision sessions. The approach here is difficult to determine in advance as it incorporates a significant degree of subjective assessment. However, through questioning the individual about their activities and relationships, it should be possible to gain insights into behaviours or attitudes which could raise concerns, for example an inability to keep to agreed boundaries.


At a minimum frequency of once every three years, individuals should be re-checked through the PVG scheme (by requesting a Scheme Record update). Training in child protection and safeguarding should also be refreshed every two years.