Information about possible hearing outcomes related to proven concerns about a social worker’s fitness to practise.
Types of hearing outcomes
Last updated: 10 February 2021
This page is intended to help social workers, employers and members of the public understand the possible hearing outcomes related to proven concerns about a social worker’s fitness to practise.
If the hearing panel decides that a social worker’s fitness to practise is impaired it will impose sanctions.
The sanctions imposed by the panel will be the minimum necessary to protect the public and the wider public interest.
You can read more about the factors a panel may consider when deciding whether a sanction is appropriate in sanctions guidance.
The panel may decide to:
- take no further action
- give advice
- put a warning on the social worker’s registration for up to five years
- impose conditions on a social worker’s practice for up to three years
- suspend a social worker’s registration for up to three years
- remove a social worker from the register
You can find more information about the relevant case law and the factors that panels should consider when making decisions in our practice notes.
No further action
Decisions to take no further action are published on the website for one month but are not recorded on the online register.
Decisions to give advice will be added to the online register for one, three or five years depending on the seriousness of the issue. The decision will be published on our website.
Warnings do not restrict a social worker’s practice and will only be used in cases where the social worker is seen to be fit to continue practising as a social worker without restrictions.
Warning decisions will be published on our website and the online register for one, three or five years depending on the seriousness of the issue and are not reviewed before they expire.
The decision will be published on our website.
Warnings are recorded in a social worker’s fitness to practise history and may be taken into account should similar concerns arise in the future.
Conditions of practice
The main purpose of conditions of practice orders is to protect the public while the social worker takes any necessary steps to remediate their fitness to practise.
Read more about conditions of practice.
If no proportionate or practical condition can be found and the case is not serious enough to require that the social worker is removed from the register, a suspension is appropriate.
Read more about suspensions.
A removal order must be made where the adjudicators decide that no other outcome would be enough to protect the public, maintain confidence in the social work profession or maintain proper professional standards for social workers in England.
Interim orders are only needed when concerns about a social worker’s fitness to practise are so serious that, if we allowed the social worker to continue to practise, public safety would be put at risk, or there would be a risk to the social worker themselves.
You can read more about interim orders.
Social workers who have a finding of impairment and a sanction imposed on them by a panel have a right to appeal that decision to the High Court in England. The appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being communicated to them.
You can read more about appeals processes.