GOC has launched a consultation on updates to its Continuing Education and Training (CET) exceptional circumstances policy.

What is the CET exceptions policy?

The Registrar has discretion to decide whether to remove or refuse to retain a registrant, or to decide not to do so. The policy identifies the circumstances in which the discretion of the Registrar may be exercised which balances fairness for registrants with the need for public protection.

The CET exceptions policy was introduced by the General Optical Council in 2015.  In particular, the CET exceptions policy provides guidance on what might constitute an “exceptional circumstance” that is unforeseen or over and above the course of everyday experience, which may have resulted in a registrant being unable to meet their CET requirements.

Such exceptional circumstances can include:

  • serious ill health, accident or injury;
  • the death or serious illness of a close family member or dependant;
  • unforeseen significant change in family or carer responsibilities;
  • significant crisis directly affecting the individual, including recent disability (where the registrant may be able to practise and undertake CET with reasonable adjustments);
  • late cancellation by a CET provider of planned CET events; or
  • absence caused by maternity, paternity or jury service.


The GOC said the policy review “will be fairer for registrants by increasing transparency about the decision-making process and will also better protect the public by more clearly setting out our focus on achieving this.”

Changes include:

  • shifting the focus from the exceptionality of the circumstances of the registrant to emphasise public protection;
  • increased transparency in the decision-making process;
  • expectations around maternity, paternity and adoption leave; and
  • removing the restriction that only those registrants whose exceptional circumstances had resulted in them being unable to practise could be considered under the policy.

The consultation will close on Thursday 8 July 2021.

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