SWE is consulting on amendments to its rules on:

  • fitness to practise rules
  • registration rules
  • removal from the register and registration appeals rules
  • fees rules

 SWE’s website said:

“Amendments proposed simply to make the rules clearer or ensure that they better align with our other rules and our regulations.”

 Summary of key changes

Fitness to practise:

  • Increase the time period for investigators to notify social workers they are under investigation from 7 to 14 calendar days (rule 8(a))
  • Include a requirement as to when notice of a review hearing (when an existing interim or final conditions of practice or suspension order is reviewed to ensure it is still appropriate) should be served on a social worker (not less than 28 calendar days) (rule 16(b))
  • Provide provisions that set out the details of the hearing process and what the applicant and regulator may or may not do when restoration to the register is sought after a removal order (rule 20(2))
  • Enable both the regulator and the adjudicators to decide whether an application for restoration after a removal order can be determined by way of a meeting (instead of a hearing) (rule 22)
  • Extend the current 56 day timeframe for adjudicators to determine restoration applications to 84 days (rule 23)
  • Add new rules to provide a method to close a case, or part of a case, following the determination of the case examiners when new information becomes available which means that there is no longer a realistic prospect of those allegations being found proved (rules 27(j) and 52)
  • Allow the regulator to set and publish eligibility criteria for legal advisers outside of the rules, instead of the requirements being in the rules (rule 33)
  • Enable the regulator to take account of previous criminal convictions when considering a social worker’s previous history (rule 35(a))
  • Add new rules confirming the evidence that may be presented to prove a criminal conviction (rule 35A)
  • Extend the provision for the social worker to have legal representation to include chartered legal executives (rule 40A)
  • Extend the provisions for service of documents to include courier and personal service (rule 40)
  • Add new rules to set out the procedure to be followed in respect of a social worker’s duty to provide information to the regulator under Regulation 16 of the Social Workers Regulations 2018, including the procedure for suspending or removing a social worker who fails to comply (rules 35A, 51 and 52)

Registration

  • Remove the prohibition on registration for offences committed outside England or Wales (rule 13), to ensure it is compliant with our regulations
  • Harmonise the requirements for restoration and registration after a period away from practice or education, by adding a requirement to demonstrate relevant additional education or training (30 days of updating skills, knowledge and experience) where qualifications were awarded 2 to 5 years before application to the register, or where it has been 2 to 5 years since the applicant was last registered (rules 14(2)(b) and 59(1)(e))
  • Impose a timeframe of 28 calendar days within which an applicant must provide any further information or evidence requested by the regulator in support of a registration application (rule 24(2))
  • Allow an application to be closed upon expiry of the relevant timeline (28 calendar days) if an applicant has failed to provide relevant information (rule 26A)
  • Allow annotations on a social worker’s entry in the register to be removed at the social worker’s request (rule 44(b))
  • Provide more detailed rules for restoration applications (rules 59(1)(d) to 59(1A) and 60A to 60E)
  • Place a time limit of 12 months within which updating skills, knowledge and experience prior to an application to join the register must have been completed, in order to ensure an applicant’s knowledge and training is reasonably recent and up to date (rule 59(1A))

Removal from the register and registration appeals rules

  • Allow the regulator to set and publish eligibility criteria for legal advisers outside of the rules, instead of the requirements being in the Rules (rule 14A)
  • Reduce the 28 day objection period (to an application being decided by meeting instead of hearing) to 14 calendar days to avoid unnecessary delays to the process (rule 15(4))
  • Increase the decision outcome period from 60 to 80 working days, to provide a more realistic timeframe for scheduling or determining appeals (rule 20(1))
  • Add new rules confirming the evidence that may be presented to prove or rebut a criminal conviction (rule 22A)
  • Extend the provisions for service of documents to include courier and personal service (rule 23)

The consultation period is 12 weeks and will end on 26 May 2022.

 

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