Charity trustees and senior managers who will be affected by new automatic disqualification rules due to come in later this year can now apply for waivers from the Charity Commission.
New rules that disqualify people from being senior managers or trustees of charities if they have committed certain offences, such as being put on the sex offenders register, or if they have unspent convictions for crimes such as terrorism or money laundering, will come into force on 1 August.
But the regulator can grant waivers to people affected by the changes and yesterday began accepting applications.
The commission can grant general waivers for all charities, for a class of charities or for a specific charity. It will not grant waivers to people who are banned from holding positions at charities according to their own governing documents.
Under existing charity law, trustees can already be disqualified automatically for bankruptcy and for crimes that involve dishonesty or deception, and charities are already prohibited from appointing trustees who are disqualified.
The regulator said in a statement that waiver applications should be made as soon as possible, and ideally by 1 June, in order to ensure there was sufficient time for a decision to be made.
The form can be found here.
The commission has published guidance designed to help people work out if they will be affected by the changes and to help charities prepare for the new regulations.
Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity Commission, said extending the number of reasons for disqualification was important to protect charities.
"Clearly, however, it will sometimes be in the best interests of a charity to employ or have on the board someone with a previous conviction of this kind," she said.
"We have worked closely with umbrella bodies and rehabilitation charities to ensure that those affected are treated fairly and proportionately and are sufficiently informed about the changes and options open to them."