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New Legislation Provides for the Regulation of all Social Care Workers by 2025

nurse with elderly patient

by Eimear Burke, Partner, Public and Regulatory Law, Fieldfisher  LLP (Ireland)

In a significant development for the social care sector, the Government has passed new legislation that paves the way for the commencement of the regulation of social care workers.

The Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2023, which was signed into law on 06 June 2023, amends the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, and certain un-commenced sections of the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2020.

It is understood that social care workers will commence being regulated by CORU in November 2023 when the register for social care workers is due to open.

The new legislation brings about a number of key changes to existing provisions of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, as set out below:

  1. Grandfathering period – Social care workers will be eligible to apply for registration during this period. Individuals will be able to apply for registration based on an employer’s opinion as to their proficiency.
  2. Increased powers of the Social Care Workers Registration Board – The new legislation grants the Social Care Workers Registration Board greater powers to determine the competence of an employer or former employer to form an opinion on a social care worker employee’s proficiency. The Board can also determine the duration of any employment relationship.
  3. Recognition of experience – Social care work experience gained from Ireland, any member state of the EU/EEA or the United Kingdom will be considered for registration which ensures that citizens from other member states with equivalent experience will be treated the same as Irish citizens. This is intended to have a positive impact on service provision in border countries across the EU, facilitating the mobility of social care workers across regions.
  4. Experience requirements – Applicants seeking registration through the grandfathering route must have a minimum of two years’ experience in social care work. This experience does not need to have been continuous, however it must be gained within five years of the application date, which can be up to two years after the register opens.
  5. Other requirements – Applicants must also meet other requirements for registration such as payment of fees, and fit and proper person criteria.

The enactment of the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2023 marks a key milestone in the social care sector in Ireland.

The Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Act 2023 can be read here.

About the author

Eimear Burke advises statutory bodies and individuals across a wide range of highly regulated disciplines including the financial services, legal, healthcare and planning sectors. Eimear provides advice and representation to clients in District Court prosecutions, Circuit Court appeals, High Court appeals, judicial review proceedings, internal appeals and confirmation applications.

Having practised in this area for 15 years, she is a skilled advocate and regularly makes oral applications before statutory committees as well as the High Court. Eimear attends before statutory committees to advise in respect of the proper discharge of their functions. She also attends with clients for interview when they are the subject of investigation by, for example, the Central Bank of Ireland.

Eimear works with a team of solicitors who provide high quality, strategic legal advice to clients across a range of disciplines.

Her niche focus on the area of public and regulatory law enables her to provide legally robust and practical advices to statutory bodies, having particular regard to the factors arising in each case and the various stakeholder interests.