Information about hearings
This section provides information for social service workers about Fitness to Practise Panel hearings. These are application hearings, temporary order hearings and impairment hearings.
We may refer a case to an application hearing when we decide:
- not to grant an application for, or to renew, registration
- to grant an application for, or to renew, registration with conditions, but the worker does not consent to the conditions.
The Panel will consider if the worker's fitness to practise is impaired and whether to grant the application. They may also consider additional registration conditions.
The Panel can make a decision to:
- refuse the application for, or to renew, registration
- grant the application subject to any conditions required by the Registration Rules, and where they consider appropriate/necessary, any additional condition(s).
For more information please see Factsheet 8 Application Hearings.
Temporary Orders can only be considered if you are a registered worker.
At any time during our investigation, we may refer a case to a Temporary Orders hearing, to seek either a Temporary Conditions or Suspension Order, or both.
We do this if:
- we receive information which suggests that a worker’s conduct, professional practice or health has caused or presents a risk of serious harm to people who use services or the public or
- we feel that such action is necessary to uphold public confidence in the profession or
- it is in the worker’s interests.
The Panel will consider whether a Temporary Order is necessary, and if so can make a decision to impose:
- Temporary Conditions Order which means that a worker’s practice may be restricted or they may be required to do something differently or under supervision, but they can continue to work while we investigate their case
- Temporary Suspension Order which means that a worker cannot practise in the particular role for which they are registered while we investigate their case
- or both of the above.
A Temporary Order can be imposed for up to two years (or longer in some circumstances).
The Temporary Order can also be imposed with the consent of a worker.
A Temporary Order is not a conclusion and our investigation will continue.
For more information please see Factsheet 6 Temporary Orders Hearings.
After an investigation, we may decide that a worker's fitness to practise is impaired. This can be due to their conduct, professional practice or their health. If we decide that a sanction should be imposed, we may hold an Impairment hearing, unless the worker accepts the sanction.
The Panel will make a decision about whether a worker’s fitness to practise is impaired, and about imposing a sanction.
The Panel can decide to impose:
- no sanction
- a warning
- a condition
- a warning and condition
- a Suspension Order
- a Suspension Order and condition
- a Removal Order.
For more information please see Factsheet 7 Impairment Hearings.
This meeting is held a number of weeks before an Application or Impairment hearing to help make sure that the SSSC and the worker are fully prepared for the hearing before it goes ahead. The legal adviser and Panel chair will also take part.
It is usually held by telephone conference.
At the meeting decisions will be made about:
- the date(s) of the hearing and any postponement/adjournment requests
- how many days the hearing is likely to take
- what witnesses are to be called, including expert witnesses, and whether any are vulnerable or need special arrangements to attend
- matters relating to your health, and any reports that might be necessary
- any legal matters, which might include but is not limited to, whether the case should be heard in public, whether evidence is admissible and relevant, whether charges are competent or properly specified, and whether the SSSC have the right to proceed with the case
- any requests for specific information to be presented to the Panel
- whether any facts on the case are agreed.
You have the right to appeal to the Sheriff Court against certain decisions. Appeals must be made in writing to the court, within 14 days of the decision being sent to you.
We will send a copy of the decision to:
- you (the worker)
- your current or most recent employer or higher education institution
- where relevant, the person who made the complaint.
We update our online Register and our website in advance with details of impairment hearings and publish the full decision, unless the worker’s fitness to practise is found to be impaired due to health only. We also list workers who are subject to a current Temporary Order.
Our function is to protect and enhance the safety and welfare of people who use social services and their carers. Publishing information about hearings and decisions:
- allows those connected to cases but not formally notified, and other stakeholders to attend hearings
- reassures the public that complaints are fully considered and we can and do take action
- educates the profession about impairment and fitness to practise
- helps employers with recruitment decisions.
We will add your name to the list of people on our website who are currently subject to Temporary Orders. This can be found on the Temporary Orders page on the website.
If you are subject to a Temporary Suspension Order, the status of your registration on our Register will show ‘temporarily suspended’.
We will also write to your current or most recent employer.
The following people will be at the hearing.
- The Panel. This includes the chair, social services member and a lay member. The social services member will have experience of working in a similar role to the worker and will be registered with us.
- The legal adviser. This is an independent solicitor who advises the Panel.
- The clerk. The clerk is responsible for managing the hearing.
- The presenter. A solicitor who presents the case for the SSSC.
The following people may be at the hearing.
- The worker, who is entitled to attend and may be represented.
- A representative. This can be a solicitor, an advocate, or a representative from the worker’s trade union or other professional body.
- A supporter.
- Witnesses may attend to give evidence on behalf of the SSSC or the worker.
- The media.
Normally hearings about applications and Temporary Orders are heard in private. Impairment hearings are normally heard in public and up coming hearings are listed on our website. However, all or part of the hearing may be held in private where it relates to a worker’s health.