'Disproportionate' vetting checks add no protection
Subjecting retail staff to excessive background checks which will not add to the safety of children and vulnerable adults would initially cost at least £6million, according to new figures and make it more complicated for firms to take on new workers.
The Vetting and Barring Scheme, which covers England and Wales, is currently the subject of a Government review which is expected to report back this week. As originally drawn up, it would mean all staff who work in health-related shops - such as staff working alongside opticians and pharmacists - would have to undergo new criminal record checks to prove they do not pose a danger to customers. The scheme would also cover qualified opticians and pharmacists, duplicating checks carried out by their own professional standards bodies.
Calculations by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show the cost of having the checks carried out on nearly 100,000 staff affected amount to at least £6million, with additional costs every time a new employee starts work. The BRC says the move would do nothing to improve standards of protection but would add unnecessary costs and delays.
Retailers take their responsibilities towards all of their customers very seriously and there is no evidence that assistants working in pharmacies or opticians pose a risk. Their relationship with customers is the same as in any other kind of shop and it is highly unlikely they would ever be alone with them.
Director of Business and Regulation at the British Retail Consortium, Tom Ironside, said: "It would be entirely disproportionate to insist shop staff are covered by these checks. They don't pose any significant risk. Applying the scheme to them merely increases costs and bureaucracy for employers.
"Protecting the public is very important, but there has to be a proportionate approach to risk. Shop assistants working in a pharmacy or opticians have the same relationship with customers as staff in any other sort of shop. They're unlikely to be alone with these individuals. Medical staff who have a different relationship with customers are already regulated by their own professional bodies.
"The flaws with the scheme are obvious. The review should leave those working in opticians and pharmacists out of vetting requirements."
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