We often get asked questions about what we do and how registration and regulation support you. Here are some of the top questions with answers below and if you have a burning question of your own please get in touch with us at communications@sssc.uk.com

We’re a regulatory body.

Here are 5 facts to explain what that means.

  1. We were set up by legislation and are here to protect the public by registering and regulating social service workers in Scotland.
  2. We publish a Register that most social service workers must be on to work in the sector. By 2020 most social service workers will need to be registered.
  3. We set standards of practice that you must follow in your daily work. These are the Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers.
  4. We can take action when workers fall below the standards. We can investigate on grounds of health, conduct or deficient professional practice. Most people working in social services deliver a very high standard of work but we will investigate where it impacts on someone's ability to practise safely and effectively.
  5. There are standards for employers too. These are the Codes of Practice for Social Service Employers and the Care Inspectorate enforce these.

Why don’t we represent the workforce?

  • We’re different from a union or professional body because we don’t represent individual workers.
  • But we do influence government policy on social services through the knowledge of the sector we gain from being the workforce regulator.

Here are the similarities and differences between a regulator, a union and a professional membership body to help you understand who we are and what we do.


Regulator (SSSC)


Professional membership body

Set up through legislation



People choose to become a member


People must register


People pay a fee

Run training courses/provide learning resources


Hold conferences

Negotiate on behalf of the profession for wages and conditions


Registration and qualification required to register



Set standards and publish codes of practice


Represent workers in employment disputes



HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) allow you to claim tax relief on professional fees which you have paid on order to carry out a job.

That means that if you’re a UK taxpayer and you’ve used your own money to pay your registration fee you can claim 20% of your registration fee.

Please note you must have paid tax in the year you paid your fee. How much you can claim depends on the rate you pay tax. If your employer has paid your registration fee you can’t claim tax relief.

The table below shows the tax relief you can claim on your registration fee if you pay tax at a rate of 20%.

Part of the Register

Registration fee

Tax relief (standard 20% rate)

Social work student



Support worker

Includes workers in a housing support service and care at home service.






Manager/social worker



How do I claim tax relief?

There are four different ways of claiming tax on your registration fees through HMRC.

  1. You can telephone HMRC and ask for relief on your fees.
  2. You can apply online to HMRC.
  3. You can claim tax relief using form P87: Tax relief for expense of employment.
  4. If you complete a self-assessment tax return, you can claim tax relief on the employment page of the return.

 Can the SSSC deduct tax from my registration fee before I pay it?

No we cannot directly deduct tax from your SSSC registration fees. You must go through HMRC for this tax relief.

How will I get my tax relief?

HMRC will usually make any adjustments through your tax code for the current year.

How far back can I claim for?

You usually have a maximum of four years to backdate a claim.

Please contact HMRC if you have any other questions.

As a registered social service worker you are part of a professional qualified workforce. Being registered means that you must:

  1. always work to the standards set in the SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers
  2. gain a qualification relevant to your role
  3. carry out training and learning to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

By doing this you and all registered workers are giving confidence and trust to the public, people who use services and their carers.

Regulation means that people who use social services and their carers trust workers will work to set standards and are qualified to care for them. Knowing the people caring for them are registered can give people who use services peace of mind.

Here are 9 things we do to help you develop your skills and promote high standards in social services.

  1. We promote high standards of conduct and practice among social service workers and make sure those same standards are met in their education and training.
  2. It’s our job to approve social work, childhood practice and Mental Health Officer courses offered by universities in Scotland.
  3. We’re responsible for the National Occupational Standards – these are the standards that form the basis of qualifications and training programmes. They describe the knowledge, skills and understanding you need to do a particular job to a nationally recognised level of competence.
  4. We support a network of 40 people working in social services to be career ambassadors spreading the word about career opportunities. Career ambassadors and SSSC staff spoke to more than 1000 people to promote #lifechangingwork in the sector in the past year.
  5. You can start working and learn at the same time by doing a social service apprenticeship. More than 1,900 people completed apprenticeships certificated by us in 2016.
  6. You don’t need to work at a computer to use our free learning resources. We have developed 17 apps that you can use on your smartphone or tablet at times that suit you and your work pattern.
  7. Using our apps and learning resources can count towards your post registration training and learning (PRTL) and can help you develop your skills and career.
  8. We have introduced Open Badges for many of our resources. An Open Badge is an online certificate of your learning that you can use to demonstrate your skills when applying for jobs. We have 100 Open Badges available and are working with employers to create more.
  9. Visit our Learning Zone to find all of our free resources including topics like medication, fitness to practise, dementia and adult and child protection.

Fitness to practise helps to improve standards of practice in this workforce and helps to protect those who use social services.

This is because, where social service workers on our Register fall below the expected standards (the Codes), we can do something about it. We can place conditions on registration if this can improve practice, for example, through extra learning. The conditions can be things like training, reading or supervision. We can also suspend or remove people from the Register.

This means the workforce is made up of people who are committed to doing an excellent job for those they care for with the values and professional approach of a trusted, skilled and confident workforce.

Being respected and trusted in our jobs leads to job satisfaction and increased motivation which is something we all benefit from. Removing workers who do not follow the Code of Practice helps make sure the people who use your services value and respect your profession.

Being seen as a profession is a valuable asset as it inspires confidence and enhances everyone’s reputation.

Not everyone is sure about the kinds of things we can investigate about a registered worker’s fitness to practise. Some people have said that we investigate workers for what might seem to be minor things so here are some facts about what we do and don’t investigate.

We need to make sure workers are fit to practise so when someone alleges a worker has done something that raises doubts about this we will investigate. There are some things that will always raise a concern even if there has already been a disciplinary outcome or criminal conviction. Sometimes we investigate because there is a pattern of minor failures in behaviour that raise a concern.

If we decide not to investigate it doesn’t mean we do not believe the person who made the allegation but it could be that there is not enough information for us to investigate.

These are things we always investigate.

  • Dishonesty, fraud, abuse of trust.
  • Exploitation of a vulnerable person.
  • Failure to respect the rights and choices of people who use services.
  • Health (of the worker) which is not being managed and affects the safety of people who use services.
  • Hiding mistakes/blocking investigation.
  • Inappropriate relationship with a person who uses services.
  • Reckless or deliberately harmful acts.
  • Serious or persistent failure to meet standards.
  • Sexual misconduct or indecency (including child pornography).
  • Substance abuse or misuse.
  • Violence or displayed threatening behaviour.
  • Other serious activities which affect public confidence.

But we don’t investigate everything; employers deal with some things that fall below our thresholds.

These are the kinds of things we would expect an employer to deal with.

  • Lateness, poor timekeeping or abandoning your post unless it has a direct impact on people who use services.
  • Personality conflicts provided there is no evidence of bullying or harassment.
  • Sickness or other absence provided there is no impairment of fitness to practise and the registrant is managing their health.
  • Misuse of social media where it does not relate to the worker’s practice or display discriminatory views or raise any other serious concern.
  • Smoking tobacco contrary to an employer’s policy.
  • Misuse of work property for personal use.
  • Minor student plagiarism.
  • Removal from course for academic reasons.
  • Fixed penalty notices unless people who use services are involved.
  • Medication failings which are minor and/or administrative.

We are funded by a mixture of grants from the Scottish Government and fees paid by registrants. In 2016/17 11% of our funding will come from registration fees.

  1. We hold our hearings in public to make sure the person going through our fitness to practise process gets a fair hearing.
    Workers have the right to a fair and public trial or hearing to protect their human rights (Article 6 of The Human Rights Act).

    We design our hearings to make sure worker’s rights are met; this includes having a public hearing, with fair notice of the case they are facing and the right to hear and challenge the evidence.

  2. Someone with experience of working in social services reviews cases about practice issues.
    Our Fitness to Practise Department includes staff who previously worked as social workers and in other social service roles, as well as staff who are solicitors.

  3. The panel members at the hearing include a social service member.

  4. The average case that ends without formal action takes six months.
    Our investigation timescales are getting shorter. The average case that ends with a formal sanction, for example a warning or condition takes 12 months.

    If a case goes to a hearing it takes longer because we need to give the worker time to prepare.

    We wait for employer or police investigations to finish before we start our investigation.

  5. We look at whether a worker is fit to practise from a regulatory point of view.
    This means our decisions can sometimes be different from what an employer has decided.

    We need to think about protecting people who use services and the wider reputation of the profession.

    We might also ask an employer for more information than they needed for their disciplinary investigation.

    We need to think about the evidence that our Panel will ask for.

  6. We can register workers who have a previous criminal conviction
    Many people who apply for registration have a previous conviction(s).

    Having a conviction, even a serious one will not always be a barrier to registration.

    We recognise that circumstances and lives change and that sometimes experience of the criminal justice system can be helpful in some jobs.

  7. We put information about hearings on our website.
    This includes what the hearing is about and what allegations the worker is facing, followed by the outcome.

    We are looking at whether there are ways to still meet our legal requirement without giving as much detail.

    We have factsheets to help workers, employers and witnesses understand the fitness to practise process on our website.