Under the Act a workforce restriction has been developed preventing people with certain serious convictions from being employed as a core children’s worker, unless they have been granted a Core Worker Exemption. These convictions are specified in Schedule 2 of the Act.
The workforce restriction has applied since 1 July 2015 to people seeking new roles as core children’s workers, prohibiting their employment unless they held an Exemption.
From 1 July 2016 the workforce restriction will apply to those employees and contractors already employed in core workforce roles.
- This means that organisations can no longer continue to employ or engage these staff in a core children’s worker role from 1 July 2016.
- Core children’s workers who have been convicted of these offences have until 1 July 2016 to apply for a Core Worker Exemption, or they will no longer be able to continue in these roles.
- If an individual is granted a Core Worker Exemption, it is (subject to conditions) no longer against the law to employ that person as a core worker.
- It is up to the children’s worker to seek a Core Worker Exemption, and all Exemptions are granted through one process.
- This workforce exemption process, administered by the Ministry of Social Development, is for all people seeking a Core Worker Exemption, even those that work in the health, education or justice sectors. Employers cannot grant an Exemption themselves.
Further information for employers is provided on the Ministry of Health website http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/health-workforce/childrens-action-plan-childrens-worker-safety-checking-and-child-protection-policies and the Children’s Action Plan website http://childrensactionplan.govt.nz/childrens-workforce/the-workforce-restriction
Information for Employers
When the transition period for existing core workers ends on 1 July 2016, if employers believe that a core worker they employ or engage has a conviction for a specified offence and does not have a Core Worker Exemption then they must apply Section 28 of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. Section 28 outlines a process of suspension and possible termination that employers or funders must follow http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2014/0040/latest/DLM5501710.html
- In addition to suspending or terminating the person, employers may also respond by moving the person into another position outside of the core children’s workforce. Once a person has a Core Worker Exemption they can then recommence work as a core worker.
- These requirements apply even if an employee has made an application for, but has not yet been granted, a Core Worker Exemption.
- Non-compliance may lead to criminal prosecution. As outlined in Section 28 of the Vulnerable Children Act, a specified organisation that contravenes subsections in Section 28 commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000.
Reminder of significant dates for children’s worker safety checking and Core Worker Exemptions
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 requires all paid employees and contractors who work with children for state-funded organisations to be safety checked over a four year phased period. This phased approach provides organisations with enough time to comply with the new regulations and also prioritises safety checking of their children’s workforce. The key dates for conducting the children’s workforce safety checks, including workforce exemptions, are:
- From 1 July 2015 employers could not have newly employed or engaged core children’s worker who has a conviction for a one of the serious offences and has not been granted a workforce exemption
- 1 July 2015 – all new core children’s workers must be safety checked before starting employment or engagement as a children’s worker from this date
- 1 July 2016 – all new non-core children’s workers must be safety checked before starting employment or engagement as a children’s worker from this date.
- From 1 July 2016 employers cannot continue to employ or engage an employee who has a conviction for a one of the serious offences and has not got a workforce exemption
- 1 July 2018 – all existing core children’s workers must have been safety checked by this date
- 1 July 2019 – all existing non-core children’s workers must have been safety checked by this date.
The entire state-funded children’s workforce is required to be safety checked by 1 July 2019 and workers need to be rechecked every three years.
If you require further information or clarity please contact Cory Vessey on firstname.lastname@example.org.