Author: Guardian (www.theguardian.co.za)
Employer Requirements to Check Employees before they Work with Children or Mentally Disabled Patients
If you are an employer who employs employees, and those employees work in an environment where they may come into contact with children or mentally disabled persons, it is imperative that you ensure all your staff and service providers, whether they are remunerated or work as volunteers are checked against both the Sexual Offenders Register and the Child Protection Register.
What does the Legislation say?
Sexual Offenders Register – Chapter 6 of The Sexual Offences Amendment Act of 2007dictates that anyone employing staff who will in any way come into contact with children at any time whilst on duty or who manages them must have them and their staff cleared against the Sexual Offences Register. The staff who have to be cleared would be anyone who is either paid or not paid (volunteers). This ensures that no staff member who has been convicted of a sexual crime against children can access children through employment.
Child Protection Register – Chapter 7 of the Children’s Act of 2005 dictates that any person managing or operating, or who works with or has access to children either as an employee, volunteer or in any other capacity at an institution providing welfare services to children, including a child and youth care centre, a partial care facility, a shelter or drop-in centre, school, club or association providing services to children must be cleared against the Child Protection Register.
What are your obligations as an Employer (as contained in the Sexual Offences Amendment Act)?
(Section 45(1) of the Act) states that any employer who intends on employing a person or has employed any employee must, in the prescribed manner apply to the Registrar for a prescribed certificate, stating whether or not the particulars of the employee are recorded in the Register
What if an employee is on the register?
Any employer who determines that an employee is on the register at the time of the check or any time thereafter is required to terminate the employee’s employment or, where possible, move them to a position in which they will have absolutely no access or contact with a child.
What if you don’t check?
(Section 45(3)) – An employer, who fails to comply with any provision of this section, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.
Once you, as the employer have received the results, the Act goes on to say that the information needs to remain confidential. Any person who wilfully discloses or publishes any information to any other person which he or she has acquired as a result of an application contemplated in section 44 or in any other manner, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.
What are your obligations as an Employer (Children’s Act)?
Before a person is allowed to work with or have access to children the person managing them must establish whether or not that person’s name appears in Part B of the Child Protection Register.
No person who is on the register may:
- Manage or operate, or participate or assist in managing or operating, an institution providing services to children.
- Work with or have access to children at an institution providing services to children, either as an employee, volunteer or in any other capacity.
What if you don’t check?
Section 124 (2) states that If an employer is found guilty of failing to establish if an employee’s name is on Part B of the register the employer is liable, on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or both. If convicted of a second offence the person can be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years or both.