Scottish Social Services Council
Fitness to Practise
If you work in the Social Services Sector in Scotland, you will be required to be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). The SSSC as the regulatory body set out the education and training requirements as well as the standards expected of their Registrants.
Given the SSSC’s remit, you may find a complaint is made against you by a service user, a member of their family, your employer or a member of the public. When a complaint is received by the SSSC, they will investigate to decide whether there is enough evidence to prove the allegations and whether your fitness to practise is impaired by the following:
- Deficient professional practice
- Health issue
- Decision about you by another specified regulatory body
- Criminal conviction
Engagement and Representation
Pre July 2021, all fitness to practise hearings need to be conducted before an independent panel before the proposed sanctions by the SSSC Fitness to Practise department can be imposed. That has now changed. The SSSC now operate an opt in hearings process, where unless a Registrant requests a hearing with the independent panel, the SSSC Fitness to Practise department’s proposed sanctions will be imposed.
Given the severe consequences of sanctions could have on you, it is extremely important to obtain legal advice early. The SSSC stated, in August 2021, that 94% of cases, “the decision of fitness to practise panels is the same as what our Fitness to Practice department initially proposed when workers don’t engage with us. This percentage drops when workers engage, and drops even further if they are represented, which shows why engaging with the fitness to practise process is very important.” (Full article can be found: Law Society of Scotland Journal)
Length of investigation
If you are not convinced by those stats. Let’s take a look at the latest published statistics (in November 2023), which shows that it takes 5.4 months, on a 3 month rolling average, to conclude a Fitness to Practise investigation, where they decide there is no further action to take. If the SSSC decide it is necessary to impose sanctions, then it could, according to the SSSC, take on average 12 months to conclude the investigation.
Sometimes, the investigation does not happen on its own. If the nature of the complaint is serious, you could face a Temporary Suspension Order at any time during the investigation, which will have serious consequences on your finances and ability continue in your job or in your chosen area. It is, therefore, crucial for you to obtain early legal advice in respect of the Temporary Suspension Order.