Frequently Asked Questions

Scope

Q.1 Who is eligible to apply for the Sexual Conviction Record Check (SCRC)?
A.1

The following persons are eligible for applying for SCRC check (i.e. eligible applicants):

  • prospective employees seeking child or MIP-related work in an organisation or enterprise;
  • staff assigned by outsourced service providers to work in an organisation or enterprise providing services mainly for children or MIPs; and
  • existing employees of child or MIP-related work in private tutorial centres and private interest/activity institutions (e.g. children activities centres, interest classes, swimming clubs, ball games clubs or piano/music centres) seeking renewal of contract of employment.

Child-related work is defined as work where the usual duties involve, or are likely to involve, frequent or regular contact with children (i.e. persons under 18). Similar criteria but with no age restriction would apply to the MIP-related work. In general, the usual duties of the relevant work may conform to one of the following criteria:

  • providing services mainly for children or MIPs (such as teachers, tutors working in tutorial centres, tutors of interest classes, social workers looking after children, paediatricians and nursing staff, staff working in special schools and hostels, etc);
  • working in premises that provide services for children or MIPs (such as general staff or assistants, librarians, cleaners, janitors, cooks, security staff in schools or tutorial centres, etc); or
  • involving frequent or regular contact, in particular unmonitored contact, with children or MIPs (such as permanently-hired school bus drivers, assistants of children activities, etc).

“Work” covers services provided to an organisation or enterprise under a contract of employment, apprenticeship or on a self-employed basis.

Applicants under the age of 18 should always be accompanied by their parent or guardian when submitting their applications. The parent or guardian should sign on the application form or other required documents to confirm that such procedures are processed with their consent on a fully informed basis.

Q.2 What posts are covered under the SCRC scheme?
A.2

In principle, only employees who undertake child or MIP-related work (where the usual duties involve regular contact with children or MIPs) can undergo SCRC at the request of employers. Applications for the check should be submitted by the eligible applicants voluntarily. Employers and employees should communicate with each other beforehand to ascertain that the usual duties of the post involve, or are likely to involve, frequent or regular contact with children or MIPs. In general, the usual duties of the relevant work may conform to one of the following criteria:

  • providing services mainly for children or MIPs (such as teachers, tutors working in tutorial centres, tutors of interest classes, social workers looking after children, paediatricians and nursing staff, staff working in special schools and hostels, etc);
  • working in premises that provide services for children or MIPs (such as general staff or assistants, librarians, cleaners, janitors, cooks, security staff in schools or tutorial centres, etc); or
  • involving frequent or regular contact, in particular unmonitored contact, with children or MIPs (such as permanently-hired school bus drivers, assistants of children activities, etc).

In view of the great variety of areas of work involved, it is difficult to work out an exhaustive list of areas of work for reference of various sectors. We encourage employers to adhere to the principle of protecting children and MIPs in considering whether to check the previous sexual conviction records of their employees.

Q.3 Will existing contract staff be requested to undergo SCRC like prospective employees during renewal of contracts?
A.3

For existing staff, only contract staff of child or MIP-related work in private tutorial centres and private interest/activity institutions can apply for the check during renewal of contracts at this stage. For the time being, the scheme does not apply to existing contract staff of other organisations or enterprises when their contracts are renewed uninterruptedly in the same organisation or enterprise.

Q.4 With regard to staff assigned by outsourced service provider to work frequently/regularly at an organisation or enterprise (such as, tutors of interest classes, security staff or cleaners), can the organisation or enterprise request them to undergo the check?
A.4

The purpose of the scheme is to protect children and MIPs. The Law Reform Commission (LRC), when making recommendations on the implementation of the scheme, has hence provided broader definitions on the terms “employers” and “work”. Although an organisation or enterprise does not have employment relationship with staff of outsourced service provider, if the relevant work meets the criteria of child or MIP-related work, the organisation or enterprise can request staff of the outsourced service provider to be deployed to work at the organisation or enterprise to undergo the check, and request the outsourced service provider to access the check result through the Auto-Telephone Answering System (ATAS), then to pass the check result to the organisation or enterprise in written format. Prior approval from the relevant staff for such arrangement should be obtained. To this end, organisation or enterprise should include a specific requirement (which requires the outsourced service provider to request their staff who will be deployed to work in the organisation or enterprise to undergo SCRC) in the tender document and/or contract. The check on whether the staff have sexual conviction record may be conducted by the outsourced service provider. To facilitate the Police to verify whether the applicant’s work falls under the scope of SCRC, the outsourced service provider should issue documentary proof to the relevant staff so that they can apply for the SCRC from the Police.

However, if the services provided by the outsourced service provider does not involve frequent or regular contact with children or MIPs, and the work of their staff at the organisation or enterprise is monitored properly, e.g. short-term maintenance workers, delivery assistants, speakers of public lectures, guest performers employed through outsourced contracts by the organisation or enterprise, the scheme does not cover these works. We do not suggest organisation or enterprise to request these staff to undergo SCRC.

Although organisation or enterprise does not need to request these staff to undergo SCRC, employer of the organisation or enterprise has the responsibility to adopt reasonable measures to protect children and MIPs from sexual abuse, e.g. monitoring the work of the above-mentioned staff.

Q.5 If an organisation or enterprise request outsourced service provider to undergo SCRC, should the organisation or enterprise make such request for checking at the tendering stage?
A.5

The outsourced service provider should as far as possible request their relevant staff to conduct the check before they are deployed to provide services to the organisation or enterprise. We consider that the arrangement of the outsourced service provider to request their staff to conduct checking as early as at the tendering stage will serve little purpose. The reason is that there may be staff change within the outsourced service provider, and the check result of the staff may change before service provision.

Q.6 Can an organisation or enterprise request self-employed persons (such as, drivers of nanny vans, sports coaches, etc.) to undergo SCRC?
A.6

If a self-employed person provides child or MIP-related services in an organisation or enterprise, the organisation or enterprise may request the self-employed person to undergo SCRC. “Work” covers services provided to an organisation or enterprise under a contract of employment, apprenticeship or on a self-employed basis.

Q.7 If an organisation or enterprise has to engage persons to undertake work that requires frequent contact with children or MIPs, must the organisation or enterprise demand their employees who are eligible for the check to undergo SCRC?
A.7

The scheme is voluntary in nature. On the other hand, since it is of paramount importance to safeguard the well-being of children and MIPs, we strongly recommend organisation or enterprise, when engaging persons to undertake child or MIP-related work, to ascertain through the scheme whether their employees have any sexual conviction records, so that employers may make decisions relating to staff appointment on a fully informed basis.

Q.8 Can an organisation or enterprise only request male employees to undergo SCRC?
A.8

Sexual offences may be committed by both male and female. Hence, to protect children and MIPs from sexual abuse, we suggest organisation or enterprise engaging persons to undertake child or MIP-related work should request both male and female employees to undergo SCRC.

Q.9 Can an organisation or enterprise request existing staff to undergo SCRC?
A.9

At this stage, the scheme is applicable to

  • prospective employees seeking child or MIP-related work in an organisation or enterprise;
  • staff assigned by outsourced service providers to work in an organisation or enterprise providing services mainly for children or MIPs; and
  • existing employees of child or MIP-related work in private tutorial centres and private interest/activity institutions seeking renewal of contract of employment.

An organisation or enterprise should not demand staff other than the above-mentioned to undergo SCRC.

Q.10 At this stage, can parents check the sexual conviction record of the private tutors they hired? Can volunteers apply for the check?
A.10

At this stage, the scheme does not cover private tutors and volunteers. We will conduct review to the operation and scope of the scheme as and when appropriate.

Application Procedures

Q.11 If an employee who is an eligible applicant under the scheme applies for the check voluntarily, the employer, however, considers it unnecessary and refuses to issue a documentary proof. Can the employee still apply for the check?
A.11

The scheme only covers applications made by eligible applicants who undertake child or MIP-related work at the request of employers. Hence, if the applicant cannot produce a documentary proof of possible employment from the relevant employer, his application will not be accepted. The documentary proof provided by the employer can facilitate the Police to verify whether the applicant’s work falls under the scope of SCRC. Employees should communicate with the employers beforehand to ascertain whether there is a need to apply for check.

Q.12 Can applicants submit an application to the SCRC Office directly without advance appointment?
A.12

No. Applicants must make advance appointment through the ATAS at 3660 7499 no less than one working day in advance of the intended appointment. Walk-in application will not be entertained.

Q.13 How can an applicant make payment for the check?
A.13

The checking fee is HK$115 per person. Payment can be made by Octopus card or EPS at the SCRC Office, or in cash or crossed cheque at the Police Shroff. Applicants should note that the Police Shroff will not receive payment from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and after 5 p.m.

For payment in crossed cheque, it should be made payable to "The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". Add-value service for Octopus cards will not be provided by the SCRC Office.

Q.14 If an applicant does not have a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences, can the applicant request the Police to give him a “clean” record in writing?
A.14

No. If an applicant does not have a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences, the Police will not issue any written confirmation to avoid creating a situation in which there is a sub-class of people in society who are unable to produce a certificate of no sexual conviction for general employment purposes.

Q.15 Can an applicant submit renewal application after the validity period of the checking code has expired?
A.15

No. The applicant should submit application for extending the validity period of his checking code within the last three months of the validity period. Fresh application will be required once the checking code has expired.

Q.16 How can an employee prevent employers from abusing the checking code which he has passed to multiple employers?
A.16

Employers before conducting the check should read the Notes to Employers to fully understand the terms and conditions of the service. Employers should neither pass the checking code, the check result or other personal data of the applicant to any unrelated person, nor use the personal data for any purpose other than the intended recruitment or employment purpose. An employer failing to do so shall be liable under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486, Laws of Hong Kong). The employee should keep a record of the employers to whom he has passed the checking code.

In the event that leakage of checking code beyond his control is suspected, the employee should inform the SCRC Office at 3660 7497 at the earliest convenience. The original checking code will be invalidated and a new one will be provided upon completion of the required procedures to reconfirm the identity of the employee. For the purpose of personal data privacy protection, an applicant is encouraged to withdraw his checking account once he no longer requires the check result for applying for child or MIP-related work (the applicant should submit the withdrawal application to the SCRC Office in person).

Q.17 What can an applicant do if he suspects that the checking code has been leaked by an employer?
A.17

In the event that leakage of checking code beyond his control is suspected, the applicant should inform the SCRC Office at 3660 7497 at the earliest convenience. The original checking code will be invalidated and a new one will be provided upon completion of the required procedures to reconfirm the applicant’s identity.

Checking by Employers

Q.18 Does the organisation or enterprise engaging in work relating to children or MIPs have legal responsibility if they do not conduct SCRC?
A.18

The LRC considers that it is not correct that employers who take unjustified risks or are negligent about conducting the proposed checks can avoid any consequence. Indeed, irrespective of whether there is negligence, an employer may be held vicariously liable in tort action for any sexual abuse committed by its employee, and so it would be in the interest of the employer to invoke the SCRC to reduce the risk of such liability when selecting and recruiting staff.

Although SCRC is voluntary in nature, employers have the responsibility to adopt all reasonable measures to protect children and MIPs from sexual abuse. Hence, we suggest relevant employers should make use of SCRC to conduct checkings.

Q.19 Can an organisation or enterprise specify in the recruitment advertisement that job applicants will be requested to undergo SCRC?
A.19

The LRC considers that information about the background history of job applicants is important to employers seeking persons to fill positions of trust. Where the job involves frequent contact with children or MIPs, information as to a job applicant’s previous convictions for any sexual offences is relevant in assessing the applicant’s suitability.

Therefore, employers of organisations or enterprises engaging persons to undertake child or MIP-related work may specify in the recruitment advertisement that job applicants may be requested to undergo SCRC. In view of the need to safeguard the well-being of children and MIPs, it is reasonable and responsible to make such a request.

Q.20 Can an organisation or enterprise request all job applicants to undergo the check once the application for the job has been closed?
A.20

In the recruitment process, selection of staff members should be determined according to a set of criteria relevant to the requirements of the work to be performed (such as qualifications and experience). To avoid collecting excessive personal information, an organisation or enterprise should request prospective employees to undergo SCRC at an advanced stage of the selection process, for example, not until suitable applicants have been shortlisted for interview. The check results are important references for organisations or enterprises to select suitable applicants for the relevant posts. As the check results are updated by the Police on a daily basis, employers are advised to check the latest check results of their employees again before completion of the employment process.

Q.21 If an employee refuses to undergo the check, can the organisation or enterprise not offer him employment on this ground?
A.21

The LRC considers that information about the background history of job applicants is important to employers seeking persons to fill position of trust. Where the work involves frequent contact with children or MIPs, information as to a job applicant’s previous convictions for any sexual offences is relevant in assessing the applicant’s suitability.

It is reasonable, responsible and necessary to introduce a system whereby the employers may ascertain that a person who assumes any post related to work with children or MIPs has any previous convictions for sexual offences. It is the view of the LRC that the implementation of such a scheme is fully justified and it will reduce the risk to which children and MIPs are exposed. Should the measure undermine the right to privacy of persons convicted of sexual offences, it is considered necessary for the sake of protecting the children and MIPs.

Hence, organisations or enterprises should state in the job application form or renewal employment contract the consequence the employee may face if he refuses to undergo the check. In view of the need to safeguard the well-being of children and MIPs, it is reasonable and responsible for such requirement. Therefore, if the employee refuses to undergo the check, the organisations or enterprises have the right not to employ him.

Q.22 If an employer requests employees to undergo the check, will this constitute a breach of human rights?
A.22

No. The LRC points out in its report that the Government has a constitutional duty under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to protect children from sexual exploitation. Differential treatment between different types of offenders is permissible under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance if the criteria for such differentiation are reasonable and objective and if the aim is to achieve a purpose which is legitimate under the ICCPR.

It is reasonable, responsible and necessary to introduce a system whereby the employers may ascertain that a person who assumes any post related to work with children or MIPs has any previous convictions for sexual offences. It is the view of the LRC that the implementation of such a scheme is fully justified and it will reduce the risk to which children and MIPs are exposed. Should the measure undermine the right to privacy of persons convicted of sexual offences, it is considered necessary for the sake of protecting the children and MIPs.

Q.23 If a job applicant comes from an area outside Hong Kong, can the employer of an organisation or enterprise requests him to undergo the check?
A.23

If a job applicant comes from an area outside Hong Kong, the employer of an organisation or enterprise can still request him to undergo the check. The employer, however, should understand that the SCRC scheme does not cover overseas sexual conviction record; the check result only covers local conviction record of a job applicant.

We suggest an employer to request a job applicant to provide certificate of no criminal conviction or other equivalent lawful documentary proof issued by their place of residence prior to employment, so as to ascertain that the applicant does not have overseas sexual conviction record.

Q.24 Should an organisation or enterprise sign the employment contract with the employee or allow him to undertake relevant duties only after the check result is available?
A.24

It is of paramount importance to safeguard the well-being of children and MIPs. The check results are important references for organisations or enterprises to assess whether the employees are suitable for the posts. Therefore, an organisation or enterprise should wherever possible sign the employment contract with the employee or allow him to undertake the relevant duties only after the check result is available. Generally speaking, if an applicant does not have a sexual conviction record, the check result will be uploaded onto the ATAS within seven working days.

To meet pressing operational need, an organisation or enterprise may sign the contract with an employee or allow him to undertake the relevant work before the check result is available. We consider that more importantly, organisation or enterprise should adopt reasonable and feasible measures in this situation, such as requesting the employee to declare in writing on whether he has or does not have sexual conviction record, and confirm with the check result when it is available. Later, if the employee is found, via the check, to have intentionally provided false information or withheld material information, the organisation or enterprise may take disciplinary action, including dismissal, proportionate to the nature and gravity of the case according to the terms and conditions stated in the relevant documents (such as application form, employment contract, etc.).

Q.25 If an applicant is seeking child or MIP-related work and has applied for checking and obtained a checking code while he is seeking other work that does not involve frequent contact with children or MIPs, can the organisation or enterprise request him to provide his checking code for accessing the check result?
A.25

The scheme is only applicable to eligible applicants seeking child or MIP-related work in an organisation or enterprise. An employer should not demand his employees to apply for the SCRC or provide the checking code if the latter is not involved in child or MIP-related work.

Q.26 How can an employer verify that the checking code provided by the employee belongs to him?
A.26

Upon acceptance of the application for SCRC, the Police will issue a letter to the applicant stating the applicant’s name and the checking code. We suggest employers to obtain the letter from the employees and check the applicant’s name so as to ascertain that the checking code belongs to the employee. In case of doubt, the employer may make an enquiry by calling the SCRC Office at 3660 7497.

Q.27 An employer cannot access the ATAS despite multiple attempts. What would be the reasons?
A.27

Employer can only access the ATAS by a telephone with activated caller display function. All access to the check result will be audit logged by the ATAS.

If the ATAS still cannot be accessed by a telephone with activated caller display function, the employer is advised to contact an SCRC officer at 3660 7497.

Q.28 What are the types of check results? Which one will confirm that the applicant has a completely clean sexual conviction record and is not involved in any outstanding cases?
A.28

One of the following messages will be given as the check result in the ATAS if the information entered by the employer is correct:

  1. The applicant (with no name mentioned) “does not have” a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences as at a particular date; or
  2. The applicant (with no name mentioned) “has” a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences as at a particular date; or
  3. Result of the check is withdrawn upon the applicant’s request. Please contact the applicant for the details; or
  4. In special cases (e.g. after the applicant’s check result is uploaded on the ATAS, the applicant is arrested or charged with any of the specified list of offences, but not yet convicted or acquitted or is a wanted person), the callers may be directed by an ATAS message to contact an SCRC officer for the status of an applicant.

Only the first check result (i.e. the applicant “does not have” a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences) will confirm that the applicant does not have any sexual conviction record and is not involved in any outstanding cases.

Q.29 If an applicant has a sexual conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences, can the employer access the details of the conviction record?
A.29

The message in the ATAS will not disclose details of the conviction record of the applicant. If an applicant has a conviction record against the specified list of sexual offences, the Police will provide the applicant the sexual conviction record in writing. Employers should obtain a copy of such records from the applicant direct when necessary.

Q.30 How can the employer prove that he has accessed the check result?
A.30

A transaction number will be provided for each successful access to the check result. The employer may note down the transaction number for record purpose.