What Employers Need to Know about “Incapacity”

did you know?

The Social Work and Social Service Work Act (the Act) defines the term “incapacitated” as meaning that a member is suffering from a physical or mental condition or disorder such that they are unfit to carry out their professional responsibilities and should not be permitted to practise, or that their certificate of registration should be subject to terms, conditions or limitations.

A College member with a physical or mental condition or disorder that is being appropriately managed may not meet the definition of “incapacity.” Members who may not meet the definition might include, for instance, a visually impaired person working in an adapted setting or a person who has a mood disorder that is taking appropriate steps to manage their condition. Such individuals may not necessarily meet the definition of incapacity.

Incapacitated members can suffer from:

  • Physical illness or impairment
  • Mental illness or mood disorders
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Other cognitive, sensory, physical or degenerative impairment

An employer’s mandatory reporting obligations

The Act requires employers to report the termination of a social worker or social service worker’s employment for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. An employer must also file a report if it intended to terminate the member’s employment, but the member resigned before it could do so. Even in situations where the employer agrees to accept the member’s resignation in lieu of termination, the legal obligation to report to the College remains the same.

The role of the Fitness to Practise Committee

The Fitness to Practise Committee hears and determines matters referred to by the Council, the Complaints Committee or the Executive Committee following an inquiry into a member’s health. The Fitness to Practise Committee is responsible for determining whether a member is incapacitated, and if so, what terms, conditions or limitations should be placed on the member’s certificate of registration.

If the Committee finds a member to be incapacitated, it can make a number of orders including:

  • Revoking the member’s certificate of registration.
  • Suspending the member’s certificate for a specified period, not exceeding 24 months.
  • Imposing specified terms, conditions or limitations on the member’s certificate of registration.

To learn more about incapacity, please visit the College website.