Advice to employers regarding Nursing Council’s role under the Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015
02 July 2015
These regulations came into force on 1 July 2015
The role of the employer (specified organisation)
- Specified organisations are required to carry out safety checks of people who are proposed to be employed as a children’s worker.
- Specified organisation are defined in the Vulnerable Children’s Act (the Act) as individuals or organisations that employ or engage a children’s worker to perform regulated services
- A specified organisation must obtain from the New Zealand Police Vetting service a Police vet of a person for a safety check unless the person is registered and the registration authority is required under an enactment to obtain a Police vet of
- any person it registers and
- any person registered at intervals of not more than 3 years.
The role of the Nursing Council
The Nursing Council is not required under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act) to carry out police vetting on applicants for registration. Under the HPCA Act it is required to:
- Consider whether an applicant has been convicted by a New Zealand Court or elsewhere of any offence punishable by imprisonment of 3 months or longer and whether that conviction reflects adversely of his or her fitness to practise ; and
- Consider whether it has reason to believe that the applicant may endanger the health and safety of members of the public.
There is also no requirement (or mandate) under the Act for police vetting every 3 years for registrants. There are some restrictions on issuing annual practising certificate under section 27 of the HPCA Act but these do not include information that would be obtained by police vetting. The Council requires nurses to declare in their application for a practising certificate whether they are the subject of criminal proceedings, as the Council is able to impose interim orders under section 69 of the HPCA Act, including suspension of a nurse’s practising certificate, where it is of the opinion that the pending criminal proceedings casts doubt on the appropriateness of the nurse’s conduct in his or her professional capacity. Court registrars are also required to inform the Council where nurses have been convicted of offences under section 67 of the HPCA Act.
Under regulation 12 of the Regulations a specified organisation (employer) must require a person to provide the name of any registration authority that has issued a practising certificate and the organisation must seek any information held by or known to that authority. It is sufficient to comply with this requirement by obtaining confirmation that the person is currently registered by the authority. The Council has an on line register that provides the names of nurses on the register with a current practising certificate.
Where the Council has been made aware that a nurse is alleged to have engaged in conduct that is relevant to a pending criminal proceeding, or an investigation that is pending under the HPCA Act or the Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994, the Council may order that the practising certificate is suspended or conditions are included. If those orders have been made, this information is available on the on line register or by contacting the Council, if the nurse’s practising certificate has been suspended.