New rules regarding charity trustees and criminal records

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New rules regarding disqualification of charity trustees and senior managers come into effect on 1st August 2018, and charities should take the time now to understand how the regulations will affect them and prepare adequately for compliance.

The new legislation which is part of the Charities (Protection and Social investment) Act 2016 apply to both trustees and certain senior manager positions and covers more criminal records than previously. The system is designed to provide some protection for charities but also offers a waiver for charities who believe that convicted staff members offer beneficial skills or experience.

The two main changes are –

More offences covered

Previously, a person could be disqualified from working as a trustee of a charity if they have declared bankruptcy or have unspent convictions relating to crimes involving dishonesty. New criteria include disqualification for unspent convictions including terrorism, money laundering, bribery, perjury or being on the sex offenders register, as well as aiding or abetting these offences.

More roles covered

Disqualification rules previously applied only to trustees, but these changes also cover those holding senior positions such as Chief Executive or Chief Financial Officer, and they apply to the specific function of a role not the title. The Charity Commission has released guidance as to what functions would be considered as Chief Executive or Chief Finance Officer, and they include having overall responsibility for management and control of the charity and/or its finances.

Charities can apply for a waiver if they believe that recruiting or retaining someone disqualified will be in the best interests of their charity.

With over 11 million people in the UK with a criminal record, many of whom have gone on to play a vital role in the charity sector, ensuring that charities are prepared for the changes is vital.