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Offering the job and post-offer checks

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Once you have decided on the appropriate candidate, you will need to send a provisional offer of employment letter and conduct pre-employment checks. These steps are outlined below.

The provisional offer

You should make a written offer of employment subject to satisfactory completion of pre-employment checks (references, right to work in the UK, health check, qualifications check and - where needed - DBS check). Download an example job offer letter from the Acas website.


References from previous employers should always be followed up. The present employer should not be contacted until the applicant has given you permission to do so.

If there is only one previous employer, or none, academic references should be sought in preference to personal references.

References should be used to support or deny the information gained about an applicant, not to choose between applicants.

A reference request should cover the following areas:

  • Name of applicant
  • Post applied for
  • Who the reference is from, who it needs to be returned to and by when
  • The identity of the referee and in what capacity they have worked with the applicant
  • A request for confirmation of the role, the duties the applicant undertook with the referee, the dates of employment
  • The reason for leaving (where applicable)
  • Whether there are any live disciplinary warnings on file
  • A request for comments on the applicant’s reliability, trustworthiness, attendance, performance in the job and relationships with others
  • Number of days of sickness absence in in the previous 12/24 months
  • A request that the referee give any other information that they feel may be useful

Someone named as a referee by an applicant is not under any legal obligation to provide a reference.  Some organisations have a policy of providing ‘bare minimum’ references. However, a person who does provide a reference is under a legal obligation to ensure that the information given is accurate and truthful.

If a reference does not provide straightforward information in response to the initial request, you might want to follow up with a telephone conversation, if the referee is willing to do so. Make notes of the telephone conversation for future reference.

Consider references in an impartial manner and be aware that on occasions, the referee may not be impartial - an applicant may have experienced prejudice or an unreasonable manager in a previous organisation.

Checking the right to work in the UK

Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, you are under a legal obligation to undertake ‘right to work’ checks on anyone you propose to employ. You could face a civil penalty if you employ an illegal worker and haven’t carried out a correct right to work check.

You should undertake the checks on everyone you propose to employ. It isn’t appropriate, for example, to only check the status of people who you consider may not be entitled to work in the UK, because of their accent or ethnic origin. Such assumptions are inappropriate and could imply race discrimination.

The process you need to go through involves checking, copying and retaining one, or a specified combination, of original documents before employment commences.

You can find out what documents are required by using GOV.UK’s interactive tool.

Criminal record checks via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

A DBS check is a process for gathering information about an applicant’s criminal history and is an important part in safeguarding. It helps organisations make safer recruitment decisions and prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups.

Levels of Disclosure

There are three levels of Disclosure::

  • Basic Disclosures
  • Standard Disclosures
  • Enhanced Disclosures

A Basic Disclosure can be sought by the applicant or the prospective employer (with the applicant’s agreement). They are only available from Disclosure Scotland, which delivers a specific service for employers in England and Wales. Basic Disclosures can be carried out for most roles. You do not need to seek a Basic Disclosure, but you can if you wish. They contain details of ‘unspent’ cautions or convictions.

Please note that at the time of writing (August 2017), it is unclear as to whether Basic Disclosures will be permissible once the General Data Protection Regulations are in force from 25 May 2018.

For some posts, you must seek a Standard Disclosure, Enhanced Disclosure or Enhanced Disclosure with children’s and/or adults’ barred list check. Such checks can only be sought for posts that are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – it is a criminal offence to do otherwise. Applications must be made by the employer directly if they are a registered body, or through an umbrella body. This is subject to the applicant’s consent. The disclosure certificate is then sent directly to the applicant who must then hand it to the prospective employer.

For initial information on the circumstances in which you should seek a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure, see the Nacro/CIPD guidance. You can also contact Nacro’s Employer Advice Service on 0845 600 3194, email, or visit the Nacro website.

For further information, advice or support, contact the DBS on 03000 200 190 or email

It is good practice to have a positive attitude to ex-offenders and to only take offences into account if they are relevant to the job. The above Nacro/CIPD guide provides information on employing ex-offenders.

Disclosure Services is an NCVO Trusted Supplier and a DBS criminal record check service. They provide Basic, Standard and Enhanced DBS criminal records checks on applicants and the system is reliable, easy to use, fast, accurate and fully secure. It includes a fully electronic application process with dedicated relationship manager and significant cost and administrative savings.

NCVO members benefit from up to 40% savings on Disclosure Services standard admin fees.

Health check

Section 60(1) of the Equality Act 2010 generally prohibits employers from asking applicants questions about their health before a job offer is made. However, after the job offer, you may ask proportionate questions in respect of:

  • whether the employee has any health conditions which may impact on their ability to do the role.
  • what reasonable adjustments a disabled applicant may need, to enable them to undertake the role.

You are advised to ask such questions in writing and to seek a written response.

Confirming the offer

Once all checks are completed, you will be able to confirm the offer of employment and the employee can start work.

Further resources

Page last edited May 07, 2019

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