Charity Commission’s London offices
The Charity Commission has published guidance to explain upcoming rule changes which will mean more people are disqualified from holding senior positions at a charity.
The rules, which come in on 1 August, will mean more people with criminal records for sex offences, terrorism and money laundering will be barred from senior roles, and people who are barred from trusteeship will also be disqualified from senior staff posts.
But the new rules have been criticised as unnecessary, and likely to cause "confusion and uncertainty".
The changes will come as part of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.
The automatic disqualification rules do not disqualify people from all involvement with charities, as they can still take on more junior positions, as volunteers or advisors.
From 1 February, people who will become disqualified by the automatic disqualification rule changes can choose to apply for a waiver.
There are general and class waivers, which apply to a certain class of charities. The Commission also gives waivers for people to hold senior positions at a particular charity.
Writing in a blog, Charity Commission deputy head of guidance & practice, Nick Mott said: “The point of these further restrictions is of course to provide some protection for charities, but the system allows us to waive disqualification for those whose experience and skills in running charities should not be lost.
“We’d strongly suggest getting your waiver application in as soon as you can, ideally by 1 June 2018, to get a decision in good time. You, and any charities that you’re running know where they stand and can make plans.
“For charities, just remember to add these new restrictions into the recruitment and post appointment declarations that you ask trustees, CEOs and FDs to complete.
Mott said the Commission will be publishing an example declaration in February.
Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, umbrella body for people with convictions, said the rule changes are “unnecessary and ineffective at protecting charities” and warned that they will “have significant consequences for a number of people currently involved in charities”.
Stacey welcomed the Commission’s detailed guidance on the updated waiver process but said he still expects the regulation to have a negative effect on some charities.
“We expect the commission to grant waivers to people who are clearly adding value to the charities that they’re involved in, and we’ll be keeping a close eye any decisions they make to refuse waivers, as that’s where the biggest problems will come,” he said.
He said he expected the changes to be “met with confusion and uncertainty by charities”.
Unlock will be publishing its own guidance soon to help boards of trustees, senior staff and HR managers understand what they need to do to prepare.