What are your obligations under the Children’s Act 2014?
The Children’s Act 2014 (previously Vulnerable Children Act) requires all children’s workers to be safety checked. It applies to both contractors and employees of organisations who are funded by government. It does not apply to volunteers.
A children’s worker is a person who works in, or provides, a regulated service, and the work may, or does, involve regular or overnight contact with a child or children, without a parent or guardian of each child being present.
There are two groups of children’s workers: a “core worker” is a children’s worker whose work requires or allows that, when the person is present with a child or children, the person is the only children’s worker present, or they have primary responsibility or authority over the child or children. A “non-core worker” is simply a children’s worker who is not a core worker.
All new children’s workers must be safety checked before they are employed or engaged. For a new children’s worker, the organisation must.
- confirm the worker’s identify, by sighting required documents
- obtain a Police Vet
- obtain the name of any relevant professional membership, license or practice certificate, and confirm from at least one of these organisations or authorities that the person is a current member, or is currently licensed or registered
- conduct a risk of assessment to determine whether the persons does or would pose a risk the safety of children, and the extent of that risk, having regard to whether the person is a core or non-core worker
- collect information about the person’s work history for the previous 5 years
- contact a nominated referee
- interview the person in order to conduct the risk assessment
Periodic safety checks must be carried out for existing children’s workers every three years after the last safety check was performed. The periodic checks are the same, except that the organisation does not have to collect work history, contact the referee or interview the person.
A Police vet won’t be necessary if the person is already regularly vetted (at least every three years) as a requirement of a membership with a professional organisation, or if they have a license or registration that requires Police vetting.
An organisation cannot employ or engage, or continue to employ or engage, someone as a core worker if that person has been convicted of a specified offence (unless that person holds an exemption). There are 39 specified offences specified in the Act, most of which involve child victims, or are of a sexual or violent nature.
The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 does not apply to safety checks for core workers (although it does apply to safety checks for non-core workers.) Therefore, a Police vet for a core worker will uncover convictions usually covered by the Clean Slate Act.
If an organisation believes a core worker has a conviction for a specified offence, the organisation must follow a specific process under the Act for suspending and terminating the worker. A termination under this section will be deemed justifiable.
Prescribed State services, DHBs, school boards and any organisations that enter into contracts or funding arrangements with those organisations (and who provide children’s services) must also have child protection policies in place. For the prescribed State services, DHBs and school boards, the policy has to be on the organisation’s website and must be reviewed every 3 years. Further, these organisations must ensure that where they enter into a contract or funding arrangement with an independent person, that person adopts their own child protection policy if some, or all of the contract or arrangement is about providing children’s services.
The policy must contain provisions on the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect in accordance with the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.
If your organisation is covered by the Act, you need to ensure you’re complying with safety checking requirements, and if you’re required to, that you have a policy in place. Check with the Anderson Lloyd employment team to see if your organisation is covered, and what you need to be doing to comply. We can also advise on child protection policies.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions about the Children’s Act, please contact our specialist Employment Team.
This article along with many others were included in the June edition of our Employment Newsletter.