Fitness to Practise Guide for Employers

What is CORU?

CORU is Ireland's multi-profession health and social care regulator. Our role is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence through statutory registration of health and social care professionals.

CORU is an umbrella term to describe, the Health and Social Care Professionals Council and the Registration Boards established under our Act.

Our Act is the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended).

What are the grounds on which a complaint may be raised with CORU?

a) professional misconduct

b) poor professional performance

c) impairment of the registrant's ability to practise because of a relevant medical disability

d) a failure to comply with a term or condition of registration provided to a committee of inquiry following a previous hearing

e)  a failure to comply with an undertaking or to take any action specified in a consent provided to a committee of inquiry

f) a contravention of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended), the rules or bye-laws, or

g)  a conviction in the State for an offence triable on indictment (or an equivalent conviction outside the State)

h) where a health and social care professional registered with CORU has been prohibited or restricted from providing health and social care in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere.

What is a relevant medical disability?

A relevant medical disability means a physical or mental disability of the registrant which may impair his or her ability to practise his or her profession. It includes an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

How to make a complaint?

You can make a complaint about a registered practitioner (a registrant) by filling out CORU's Fitness to Practise complaint form.

Please Note: Complaint forms can be provided and processed electronically. Please see the CORU website here for a complaint form and more information on submitting a complaint form.

Only a completed complaint form that is signed and dated can be dealt with by CORU.

Making a complaint to CORU

In most cases, incidents involving minor employment issues which do not affect the safety or wellbeing of the public do not need to be referred to CORU.

But in other cases, CORU may take more serious action than you as an employer. This may mean that a registrant cannot work in his or her profession, or has restrictions placed on his or her practice and not just in their current job. Fitness to Practise and employment processes are different and can result in different outcomes.

Each set of circumstances should be considered on its own facts when deciding whether you should as an employer make a complaint.

Where the conduct of a registrant appears serious and / or may affect the wellbeing of the public, we would expect employers to make a complaint.  If in any doubt over whether the conduct appears serious and/or may affect the wellbeing of the public, you should err on the side of caution and inform us. 

Am I obliged to make a complaint? 

All registrants (i.e. health and social care professionals registered with CORU) must abide by a statutory Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics.

Employers and managers who are themselves registrants should keep in mind their own professional obligations under their Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics including their obligations to act in the best interests of service users, as set out in section 1 of each profession's Code of Conduct, and to raise concerns about safety and quality of care as set out in section 20 of each profession's Code of Conduct.  

Even if you are not a registrant, you ought to take these factors into account, and consider the public interest and the interests of service users in deciding whether to make a complaint.

Whether or not you need to tell us about a matter will depend on the circumstances and seriousness of the case.  However, as stated above, where the conduct of a registrant appears serious and / or may affect the wellbeing of the public, we would expect employers to make a complaint as a matter of course 

If you have any questions about the process, you should contact us and speak to a case officer.

Is a complaint a protected disclosure? 

A complaint to CORU is a protected disclosure pursuant to the Health Act, 2004. This provides protection, from civil liability and from penalisation by an employer to a person, who makes a complaint in good faith to CORU and where a person has reasonable grounds for believing that a registrant has posed, is posing or is likely to pose a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

In addition, under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act, 2005, in respect of any action for defamation the proceedings of the Preliminary Proceedings Committee and the Committees of Inquiry are absolutely privileged, except in the case of a document that is the subject of an allegation that has not been made in good faith.

How long does the process take?

Registrants can find having a Fitness to Practise complaint made against him or her to be stressful, so we will try and deal with the complaint as quickly as we can. You may wish to take advice including legal advice.

The length of the process will vary depending on the nature of the complaint made and how complicated the issues are.

Do I have to give evidence?

Employers may have to give evidence at a hearing. It will depend on the circumstances of the complaint against the registrant.  If it is likely that you will be called to give evidence, you will be given appropriate guidance on the process.

What can I do for my employee?

We understand that employers may want to provide guidance and support to their employees. It may be helpful to suggest that your employee gets advice from their union or professional body (if they are a member of either) or to get legal representation.

Will I be told if a sanction is imposed on one of my employees?

Yes. When a sanction is imposed on a registrant, CORU will inform his or her employer if we know who the employer is.

Does the registrant not have to tell CORU about serious matters?

Under the Codes of Professional Conduct and Ethics, if events take place that may relate to Fitness to Practise such as criminal convictions or suspension from work arising from a disciplinary matter, the registrant has a responsibility to tell the Registration Board for their profession.

But a registrant may not always do this, so you as an employer or manager should let CORU know about any concerns you may have about a registrant's Fitness to Practise. In particular, CORU should be told if:

  • the behaviour or actions of a registrant have raised concerns about their Fitness to Practise;
  • a registrant has had restrictions placed on his / her practise such as supervision or other restrictions, has been dismissed or there is a case of serious misconduct; or
  • the status of a registrant has been downgraded.

Should I tell CORU at the beginning of disciplinary proceedings or wait until the end?

In most cases CORU should be told at the point that you as an employer or manager decide that there is evidence of a concern relating to Fitness to Practise. This is usually when the matter goes forward to the formal disciplinary or capability process.

Sometimes it will be appropriate for CORU to wait until you have finished your internal procedures. But, depending on the seriousness of the situation, there may be times when CORU may proceed immediately with the Fitness to Practise process.

Even if CORU does not immediately pursue an allegation, once we have been told about it, CORU will be better placed to protect the public. For example, once CORU is made aware of an allegation, the registrant concerned cannot avoid the consequences by removing themselves from the Register or allow their registration to end.

There are limits to what CORU can do

CORU can only look into a complaint about a person who is registered with CORU. If you wish to check if a person is registered with CORU please click here.

CORU can only look into complaints about events occurring on or after Fitness to Practise opened on 31 December 2014.

CORU cannot:

  • look into complaints about any person who is not registered with CORU;
  • give legal or professional advice or representation to people making complaints;
  • look into complaints about hospitals, clinics or other healthcare organisations;
  • pay compensation or help people make a claim for compensation;
  • give or arrange medical treatment or counselling for complainants;
  • contact a registrant and ask him or her to do something for a complainant;
  • make a registrant apologise to a complainant; or
  • give you a detailed explanation of what happened. This information can only come from the registrant or the relevant healthcare organisation; or
  • under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended), re-open complaints following the decision of the Council that no further action is to be taken.