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03 Jun 2021

Professional standards

We’re changing our hearings process

We’re changing our fitness to practise hearings process. From this summer we will only hold a hearing when a worker asks for one.

Under the new process we’ll hold a fitness to practise hearing if a worker disagrees with the outcome of our investigation and asks for a hearing to resolve the disagreement.

The change means we’ll be able to focus our resources to improve the fitness to practise process and the support available to people involved in fitness to practise cases.

The change comes into effect on 1 July 2021.


In our 2019 consultation there was strong support for the proposed changes with 92% of respondents agreeing with the proposal.

Two areas of concern we drew from consultation comments were:

  • that currently workers may disagree with the outcome of our fitness to practise investigation but feel unable to engage through lack of support
  • a desire that we resolve fitness to practise investigations more quickly.

The change to opt-in hearings will enable us to focus our resources better to address both areas.

You can read the full consultation outcome report on our website.

What’s different?

Currently we must hold hearings unless a worker tells us they don’t want one and accepts the outcome of our fitness to practise investigation, including any sanction. This means hearings take place even when workers don’t engage in the process or dispute the outcome.

Who’s affected by the change?

Only 1.6% of workers on our Register are currently being investigated by fitness to practise. The number of workers whose fitness to practise is found to be impaired and have a sanction place on their registration is around 6% of the workers we investigate. Most workers agree to our proposed sanctions.

Our research shows that cases where the worker doesn’t engage with us the outcome of a fitness to practise hearing is the same as the decision we made.

What happens now?

We’ll contact everyone whose fitness to practise we are currently investigating with more information about how the change affects them. If you have any questions about the new process you should contact your caseholder.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council