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23 Mar 2020

Social service workforce SSSC registration

Coronavirus frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We’ve been receiving lots of enquiries from workers and employers. Our FAQs answer some of the most common ones. We’ll keep this information up to date as new guidance and information is available. (last update 11 November 2020, updated guidance for SVQ assessment centres)

Should I go to work?

If you’re not sure if you should be going to work check NHS Inform for the latest on:

  • general advice
  • symptoms
  • social distancing
  • staying at home
  • advice for professionals.

If you don’t have symptoms but are looking for general information and advice you can call the helpline: 0800 028 2816.

Employing social service workers

Changes to the law mean people working in social service roles in nurseries, care homes, care at home and housing support services, residential childcare services and school care accommodation service can now work for 12 months without being registered. This time limit used to be six months.

We understand that for people working in these services applying for registration will not be a priority. 

We expect employers to practise safe recruitment, which includes carrying out a PVG check.

Redeploying social service workers

Workers registered to work in one kind of service can be immediately redeployed to work in another kind of service without any need to change their registration status with the SSSC. They now have 12 months in which to register to work in a different service. 

  • For example, a care home worker could be immediately deployed to work in a care at home service, as long as the provider is satisfied they have the appropriate skills and experience for the work.
  • Similarly, a healthcare worker can be redeployed immediately into a registered care service and would now have 12 months before there was a requirement to register with the SSSC.


Volunteers helping in services don’t need to register with us.

Induction and training

We’ve produced guidance in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland which provides useful resources and links to support employers with training for redeployed workers, temporary workers and volunteers. Get more information and your copy of the guidance here.


Disclosure Scotland are working as normal on PVG checks.

Providers are expected to have received satisfactory checks, including PVG membership and references before someone starts work. See the Safer Recruitment Guidance, from the SSSC and Care Inspectorate, for information and advice on meeting legislative and regulatory requirements regarding recruitment.

The Care Inspectorate are currently advising services they don’t need to update staff PVGs on a three-yearly basis, to help relieve pressure on services and Disclosure Scotland during the pandemic.

However, if a worker is moving to a new role, employers should risk assess to consider whether there is a specific need to make an update.

If someone has only been a member of the PVG scheme for children and will now be working with vulnerable adults, or vice versa, they must continue to apply to join the appropriate scheme. You can get more information on the Care Inspectorate website here.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

We know it’s essential the workforce has the equipment they need to do their job safely. Updated guidance on COVID-19 PPE is available on the Public Health England website here.

The Health Protection Scotland website also has PPE posters you can use here.

The HPS Information and Guidance for Care Home Settings also covers use of PPE.

Your employer should be able to advise what PPE you need for the tasks you’re carrying out.

Testing for social care staff

Social care workers are in the priority one group of the Scottish Government’s access to testing guidance.

To access testing you should visit the NHS Inform website to find information and go through the guide. If you work in care at home or housing support, you should select other within the guide.

Your line manager should refer you for testing if you meet the appropriate criteria set out in the guidance.

COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccination – it’s time to roll up your sleeve: information from the SSSC about the vaccine.

Social care workers are in the first priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to receive the vaccine.

The NHS Inform COVID-19 vaccine page has lots of information about receiving the vaccine and Public Health Scotland has vaccine resource toolkits with information specifically for care home, social care and healthcare workers.

Temporary Register for social workers

The Coronavirus Act 2020 creates a new part of our Register for Temporary Social Workers. People who can apply for registration are:

  • social workers who left the register in the last five years
  • final year social work students who have completed 75% of their practice placements and the required academic standard.

There is no fee for joining this part of the Register.

We have contacted eligible social workers and students to invite them to apply.

We’re also working with partner organisations to find the best way to match the people on our Register with the service that needs them.

Qualification conditions

We understand the pandemic may mean workers won’t be able to meet a qualification condition on their registration. If someone is unable to meet it, we’ll give them an extra 12 months to gain a qualification. They can carry on working as normal.

Assessing qualifications

Following discussion with SQA and other partners we published Supplementary guidance for SVQ assessment centres (updated November 2020).

Paying fees and renewing registration

At the end of your registration period we will will invite you to renew your registration. Please submit your renewal application form before your renewal date. If you are having any difficulty paying your annual fee or renewing your registration because of the current situation please contact us using the web form on our Contact us page.

Fitness to practise

We’re getting queries from people involved in our fitness to practise process about their individual circumstances. We’ll get back to people as soon as we can.

We've also made some changes to our fitness to practise processes to focus resources on supporting the sector.

Hardship funding for social work students

Scottish Government has provided emergency financial support to universities to help students facing hardship because of COVID-19. It is available to all students, undergraduate and postgraduate students whether full time or part time, at the discretion of the university.

We’ve worked in partnership with Scottish Government and universities to establish a hardship fund for postgraduate social work students experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. We’ve widened the current bursary eligibility criteria to provide financial support to full time social work students who are not currently in receipt of a bursary from us and students only in receipt of support towards tuition fees, this includes international students and students who have previously been assessed an ineligible.

Any social work student who finds themselves in financial hardship should contact their university at the earliest opportunity as they can advise what funding may be available and how to apply.

Work placements

We have published a toolkit of information to support placement providers, students and centres to support the safe return of students to placements. You can download the toolkit here.

If your query is not covered above please contact us using the web form on our Contact us page.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council