Work to rule: Protection of vulnerable adults

Charities should check before offering employment in care positions.

Vulnerable adults
Vulnerable adults

The Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme is set out in the Care Standards Act 2000. It creates a list of people who are considered unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults in England and Wales. The scheme has been implemented on a phased basis since 26 July 2004. A new vetting and barring scheme, currently being introduced by the Government, will build on the Pova list and will be covered in a future article.

There is a statutory requirement for providers of care, including charities, to check if individuals are included on the Pova list if they are about to offer employment in a position of care in a home involving regular contact with residents or providing personal care in individuals' own homes. Pova checks should be made prior to the appointment of care workers.

Pova checks are not required for individuals who were already employed in care positions on 26 July 2004 and who remain in those same jobs thereafter, provided that a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure has been obtained on them.

There are certain circumstances in which care providers must refer care workers to the Secretary of State for Health for possible inclusion on the Pova list.

A person should be included on the list if, for example, they have been dismissed on grounds of misconduct that harmed or placed at risk of harm a vulnerable adult. The same applies if they have resigned, retired or been made redundant in circumstances in which the care provider would have dismissed them were it not for the resignation, retirement or redundancy, or if the provider has transferred the worker to a position that is not a care position. A person should also be listed if the provider has, on such grounds, suspended them or provisionally transferred them to a position that is not a care position, but has not yet decided whether to dismiss them or confirm the transfer.

Certain information must be provided for referrals, including the individual's name, date of birth, national insurance number, confirmation that they occupied a care position at the time of the misconduct, full details of the misconduct, details of investigations carried out to date, details of actions taken against the individual, information on any police involvement and details of any proposed action.

Charities providing care services must check the Pova list before offering employment in care positions.

- Emma Burrows is a partner and head of the employment group at Trowers & Hamlins solicitors 


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