Be careful not to employ convicted sex offenders in jobs near children

“I’m establishing a new day care centre and am recruiting employees to work in the centre. I recently heard of another day care that had big problems when they unwittingly employed a convicted sex offender at the day care. I want to avoid a similiar situation and was wondering what I should do in this regard?”

A National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) was established in June 2009 by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, No. 32 of 2007 to assist in curbing the prevalence of sexual offences in South Africa against children and mentally disabled people. The NRSO records the names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people and seeks to ensure that offenders do not work with children or mentally disabled people. 

The content of the National Register is not public, but an employer running for example a day care centre or crèche will be able to apply for a clearance certificate to confirm that an employee is not listed on the register. At present, the issuing of clearance certificates or verifying individuals for any purpose is not yet operational. Until such a clearance certificate can be requested, it is recommended that employers for the interim request prospective employees to declare on affidavit that they have not been convicted of such an offence. In addition, an employer can also consider requiring that prospective employees obtain a police clearance certificate. 

It should also be noted that in terms of the Children’s Act, No. 38 of 2005 employers offering services which allow for access to children must, before employing a person, establish from the Registrar of the National Child Protection Register whether or not the potential employee’s name is listed on Part B of the National Child Protection Register. If the potential employee’s name appears on the Register, he or she will not be allowed to work in an environment which allows for access to children. To establish whether the person’s name appears in Part B of the Child Protection Register, the employer should complete and submit the correct form which can be obtained from the Department of Social Development.

If, as the owner of a day care centre you find out that an employee has been convicted of a sexual offence against children and mentally disabled people or has been found unsuitable to work with children, it is vital that the employee be moved to another position that will not bring the employee into contact with children, or if that is not possible, that the employer consider terminating the employment of the person. 

As you are dealing with a very sensitive issue, it is advisable that you consult with your labour specialist to ensure that your recruitment processes are legal and appropriate to identifying potential issues, and that you engage your labour specialist immediately for guidance should any issue relating to a sexual offence by an employee arise.

June 7, 2018
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