Navigating Mandatory Reporting – What Employers Need to Know

Employers of social workers and social service workers have a legal responsibility to understand the College’s mandatory reporting process, and when necessary, to submit a report with the College. A report shares concerns related to the practice or conduct of a College registrant.

“The mandatory reporting process alerts the College when there is a concern that a social worker or social service worker is not practising safely,” said Richelle Samuel, the College’s Director of Complaints and Discipline. “When employers submit a report to the College, we can take further action to protect the public. A report allows the College to investigate broader regulatory concerns about a registrant in comparison to a complaint, which focuses on one specific instance or issue and usually relates to social work or social service work services received by one client.”

When Employers are Required to Report

There are specific circumstances when employers are legally required to file a report with the College.  “Although there is a legal obligation, filing a report also has the added benefit of mitigating reputational risk and the potential for other serious consequences for your organization. If the public or media becomes aware that you did not submit a report and the registrant goes on to harm additional service users, your organization may lose business or even face legal repercussions,” said Samuel.

Employers are required to report the termination of a social worker or social service worker’s employment for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. “Employers may not realize that they must also file a report if they planned on terminating a registrant’s employment for reasons of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity, but the registrant resigned before their employment could be terminated. Even if an employer agrees to accept a registrant’s resignation instead of terminating them, they must file a report,” Samuel stated.

Employers must also file a report if they become aware that a current or former employee was convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada involving sexual conduct, even if the individual no longer works at their organization. Additional reasons for filing a mandatory report can be found on our website.

Reports must be made within 30 days of the termination or resignation of the employee where there were concerns related to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. Employers can submit a report through the College’s online Reporting Form.

Filing a Report and the Investigation Process

When an employer files a report, an intake investigator – a neutral fact finder who works for the College – will review the report and may reach out to the employer to ask additional questions. “The intake investigator will compile an informational package for the Registrar, who reviews the material and determines if she has reasonable and probable grounds to start an investigation. In other words, what, if any, concerns should be investigated in the public interest. If a report leads to an investigation, the registrant will be informed and will have an opportunity to provide a written response,” explains Samuel.

“Any report that comes in regarding the sexual abuse of clients is expedited,” Samuel assures. The College ensures that due processes are in place for all reports while maintaining appropriate timelines. However, given the numerous steps involved, investigating a report may take some time complete.

Once the Investigation is Completed

Once the investigation is completed, it is reviewed by the Executive Committee. They will decide on an appropriate course of action, which will be communicated to the registrant in writing. This written communication is not published on the College’s website. “An employer who files a report is not a party to the investigation,” Samuel said. “They may be contacted to provide additional information, however, they are not provided with updates or a copy of the Executive Committee’s written communication to the registrant due to confidentiality obligations in our legislation.” However, an employer may be notified if the investigation result in a referral of allegations to the College’s Discipline Committee. Although employers are not provided with the result of the report they filed, they can be confident that the College is doing everything we can to protect the public. The employer’s role is to submit the report, at which time the College’s role takes over to assess the reported concerns as we conduct the investigation, where appropriate.

As noted above, the Executive Committee may refer the matter to the Discipline Committee, however, in appropriate cases, they may also refer the matter to the Fitness to Practise Committee for a hearing. If the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee, this information is publicly available on the Online Register. In certain cases, the Executive Committee has the authority to suspend, or impose interim terms, conditions or limitations on a registrant’s certificate of registration, pending a hearing before the Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committees. This information will also be made available on the Online Register.  

“There are other outcomes that the Executive Committee may pursue apart from a referral of allegations to the Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committees. They may decide that no action is required, or they may provide written advice or a warning to a registrant which may also include a requirement to engage in specified remedial activities,” Samuel explains.

If you have any questions about mandatory reports, contact