GMB Scotland Wins Landmark Appeal Against Scottish Social Services Council
GMB Scotland has today (Wednesday 14 February) hailed a landmark appeal against the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), hastening the end of a ‘kangaroo court’ within the regulatory body’s disciplinary procedures which has ruined the livelihoods of hundreds of care workers.
GMB Scotland’s lawyers, UnionLine Scotland, challenged a widespread practice of the SSSC (the regulatory body for Support and Social Workers in Scotland) to impose a Temporary Suspension Order on a care worker while investigations into alleged misconduct had yet to be completed. The practise often results in low paid, mainly female, workers losing their livelihood years before the final hearing.
At the Appeal Hearing, Dorothy Bain QC acting for the care worker, told the Court that her client was originally charged by the SSSC with allegations of misconduct in September 2015. At that time the SSSC took a decision not to suspend him. The care worker continued in his job and received glowing assessments from his employers. Some two years later the SSSC decided to refer the care worker to a suspension hearing where a six month temporary suspension order was imposed.
Sheriff Smith who presided over the Appeal Hearing found in favour of the care worker on grounds that that the suspension was unreasonable, not proportionate, was not necessary for the protection of the public and was not in the public interest. She also ruled that the Fitness to Practice Panel who imposed the suspension order had ignored relevant factors that demonstrated the care worker could prove he was not a risk to the public.
Freedom of Information previously conducted by GMB Scotland demonstrated that since 2006/07, the SSSC has held 1113 interim hearings of which 1050 (94%) resulted in suspension for the worker prior to the hearing of the case. In comparison the General Medical Council have rates of imposing suspensions of between 9% and 32%.
GMB Scotland Organiser Helen Meldrum said: “Make no mistake, the SSSC has been a mincing machine for the rights of low-paid care workers in Scotland, handing down punitive sanctions on staff who had often done nothing wrong whatsoever.
Professional standards in care are vital but frankly the disciplinary procedures of the SSSC have become a kangaroo court that workers have had to contend with for far too long and hundreds of livelihoods have been ruined because of it.
This decision is a massive result for the defence of our members’ interests and now tens of thousands of workers across the care sector stand ready to benefit from our campaign - GMB will ensure that they do.”
Brian McLaughlin, UnionLine Scotland said; “I am pleased to report that the appeal was successful and we await the written decision which should be published imminently.
This is the first such successful appeal in Scotland; trade unions have been trying to deal with these cases for years but GMB Scotland and Unionline have taken on the challenge.
It is immensely encouraging for the legal team at UnionLine Scotland to be given the full support and resources by GMB Scotland to mount groundbreaking legal cases of this kind that will give greater protections to the rights of care workers in Scotland.”
Contact: GMB Scotland Senior Organiser Drew Duffy on 07912 560806 or GMB Scotland Organiser Helen Meldrum on 07958 156838.