On Friday the 9th of February 2018 at Dundee Sheriff Court, a Care Workers who is a member of GMB Scotland won a landmark appeal against the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC – the regulatory body for Support and Social Workers in Scotland). The member was represented at the appeal hearing by Brian McLaughlin from UnionLine Scotland and Dorothy Bain, QC.
The member is employed as a support worker for HC One Limited at a care home in Dundee. He was ‘referred’ to the SSSC in July 2015 in connection with a number of allegations of misconduct. The Fitness to Practice Panel (FPP) found that there was insufficient evidence to suspend the member at that time. The SSSC saw fit to refer our member back to the FPP over 2 years later in October 2017 on the same allegations dating back to 2015.
At the FPP hearing a Temporary Suspension Order (TSO) was imposed for a 6 month period commencing the 1st of December 2017. The member had continued to work at the care home without incident for over 2 years and was given glowing reports and appraisals by his employer. Information that the FPP themselves had ordered the Employer to provide but then disregarded.
The injustice of such practices is most obvious in cases of members who receive TSO’s while allegations are being investigated which can be 18 months or more. In such cases, particularly in the private sector, members can, and do, lose their livelihood due to suspension as employers are unable or unwilling to provide alternative employment.
Taking this legal challenge did entail risk for us as a union. There was no legal precedent for running such a case. Taking cases of this nature can be very expensive. However, we took the calculated risk, did the right thing by our member and we won. It is impossible to overstate what this case will mean for members in care. The SSSC has said they will have to review their procedures after our win. Brian at UnionLine Scotland has done a great job on this case.
GMB Scotland Secretary