Safety for the Children’s Workforce

1 Sep 2017
Author: Andrea Twaddle
 
Keeping children safe is a collective responsibility. Organisations who work with children are required to ensure that their policies and practices reflect this responsibility. Child Protection Policies provide guidelines for organisations and their staff to create a safe environment for children. They are a tool that protect children and the workforce by defining clearly what action is required in order to keep children safe, and that all staff follow the same, consistent process in order to achieve this.

The Vulnerable Children’s Act

The Vulnerable Children’s Act is intended to improve the protection of children at risk or abuse or neglect, including stronger vetting of adults who work with children. It bans those with serious convictions from working closely with children. The Act sets out requirements for all government funded employers to conduct background checking, known as “safety checks”, on all new and existing employees and contractors who have regular and unsupervised contact with children, called “children’s workers”.

State services, individuals and organisations funded directly or indirectly by a government service that provides regulated services, are known as “specified organisations”, and have a mandatory obligation to safety check their employees. A specified organisation must not employ or engage a person as a children’s worker without ensuring a safety check of the individual. From 1 July 2018, specified organisations will be obligated to safety check all existing employees, a process that must be repeated every three years.

Child Protection Policies

A Child Protection Policy together with safe recruitment policy and practices should prevent those who are a risk to children from working with them as staff members or volunteers. Employers should be satisfied that children’s worker do not pose undue risk to the safety of children.

Private and voluntary organisations which are not specified organisations under the Act are not covered by the legislative requirements. Children in activities such as sports and recreation activities are no less vulnerable to abuse from a non-funded organisation staff or volunteer than a government-funded one. Therefore, these organisations are encouraged to adopt the standards of the Act voluntarily.

Child Protection Policies should include:
  • Requirements to keep children and staff safe.
  • How concerns will be identified.
  • Procedures to follow when a concern arises.
  • Guidelines for reporting and recording concerns.
  • Recruitment guidelines for paid staff, contractors and volunteers.
  • Safe working practices and worker expectations.
  • Child protection training for those working with children.

Article by Andrea Twaddle, Director and Employment Law specialist, DTI Lawyers

 
 
 
Safety for the Children’s Workforce
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a regular commentator on employment law issues and is frequently sought as a presenter at client and industry seminars, as well as for the provision of advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at andrea@dtilawyers.co.nz