UKAHPP Disciplinary Procedure

UK Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners

 – Disciplinary Procedure –

Introduction

The UKAHPP Disciplinary Procedure has been designed to enhance UKAHPP operational efficiency and to encourage all members to achieve high standards of professional conduct. It provides a clear, fair and consistent governance framework  for resolving concerns not covered by the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure and the UKAHPP Organisational Complaints Procedure. Its main focus is concerns about:

  • The general conduct of members, not related to fitness to practice or the member’s interface with service users
  • Conduct and performance of UKAHPP officers whether on an elected, appointed, freelance or voluntary basis.

The procedure may be also implemented if the UKAHPP Board of Directors have good and sufficient reason to believe that a member has acted in a way seriously prejudicial to the good standing of the UKAHPP or their status as practitioner.

Concerns will usually be investigated on an informal confidential basis before any formal disciplinary proceedings are invoked.

  1. General Principles

1.1 This procedure and subsequent updates will be published on the UKAHPP website and a copy will be posted to a member by the General Secretary if formal disciplinary proceedings are invoked.

1.2 At any stage of the disciplinary process, the member may be accompanied by a colleague or ‘McKenzie Friend’ for support. They cannot speak on behalf of the member or ask questions of the panel or any witnesses.

1.3 At a disciplinary or appeal hearing the member may choose to be represented by a recognised trade union or professional organisation, in which case they must inform the General Secretary within 14 clear days of the hearing, with details of who will be attending and their official status.  Such representatives may not answer questions on behalf of the member.

1.4 The member and or their appointed representative will be informed of the nature and circumstances of the concerns raised about the member and will be provided with copies of all available evidence at each stage of the procedure to enable the member to fully understand and respond to the concerns raised about them.

1.5 In accordance with equality and other legislation (relating to communication, psychical/mental health and other disability needs) adjustments to procedures will be accommodated with prior arrangement with the General Secretary.

1.6 Witness evidence is usually provided at disciplinary hearings in writing or via a video/audio link.

1.7 If witnesses are called to give oral evidence at a disciplinary hearing, which is unusual, they will be informed in advance of the hearing and will be called on a one-by-one basis to give their evidence and will be asked to leave the hearing after they have given their evidence and any clarifying questions have been raised.

1.8 If during the course of a hearing significant new evidence emerges about the conduct or performance of the member, of a nature different to the original concerns and which cannot be substantiated during the hearing, proceedings may be adjourned until such time an investigation of these concerns has been completed.

1.9 If a member is unable to attend a disciplinary interview or hearing due to sickness and gives sufficient notice and a covering letter from their G.P or NHS consultant, the interview/hearing will be re-arranged at a time and place convenient to the member. Proceeding may progress in the member’s absence, if the member fails to give notice of nonattendance or in cases of repeated nonattendance.

1.10 The UKAHPP will cover the cost of providing a venue for panel meetings but is not be responsible for travel or other expenses incurred by the member or witnesses at any stage of the procedure.

  1. Raising Concern

2.1 Concerns can be raised about the conduct or performance of UKAHPP officers and the general conduct of members, where there is no prima facie concerns about the member’s practice or interface with service users, which will are covered by the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure.

2.2 Concerns may be brought to the attention of the Board of Directors via the association’s Administration Office by amongst others:

  • Directors of the Company
  • Board Members/Function heads
  • UKAHPP members
  • Service users
  • Members of the public
  • Other agencies and professionals

2.3 Anonymous concerns may be accepted where there are serious and credible grounds about public safety or a crime being committed.

2.4 The UKAHPP will not accept concerns about a member’s conduct or performance:

  • If they are a substantial duplication of an existing concerns or a repeat of a previous concerns where there was no case to answer
  • They outside of the scope of UKAHPP’s remit or objectives
  • They are vexatious, frivolous, dilatory, incorrect or defamatory
  • The concerns raised are being considered by another organisation or the police
  • Concerns about a deceased member may be investigated but proceedings cannot be invoked
  1. Disciplinary Panel and Initial Investigation

3.1 In the first instance concerns will be forwarded to the General Secretary who will conduct an initial fact finding investigation.

3.2 The General Secretary will report the findings of their fact finding investigation to the Disciplinary Panel.

3.3 Membership of the Disciplinary Panel includes the Ethics Committee Chair, the Chair of the Board of Directors and the General Secretary or their nominated deputies.

3.4 If a member of the Disciplinary Panel is the subject of concern, is implicated in concerns about another member or has a conflict of interest, they will have no further involvement as a UKAHPP officer in the Disciplinary Procedure. If not already aware they will be informed of the reasons.

3.5 The Disciplinary Panel has the authority to conduct disciplinary interviews at all stages of the Disciplinary Procedure, without consultation with the full Board of Directors, up to and including the issuing Dismissal Orders.

3.6 On the balance of probability the Disciplinary Panel will determine:

3.6.1 If there is a prima facie case to answer – if not the member will not be informed of the concerns raised and the matter will be closed.

3.6.2 If the matter at hand is a fitness to practice concern governed by the UKAHPP Complaints Procedure OR a non-practice conduct/performance matter? The former will be referred to the UKAHPP Ethics Committee.

3.6.3 Whether the matter is to be addressed through an Informal Disciplinary Interview OR by invoking Formal Disciplinary Proceedings.

3.7 The Disciplinary Panel may advice the Board of Directors to delegate responsibility for conducting informal and formal aspects of the  Disciplinary Procedure to a specially designated panel.

  1. Informal Interview

4.1 An Investigation Officer (normally the General Secretary or their nominated deputy) will inform the member that concerns have been raised about their conduct or performance and will convene a face-to-face or alternative interview format to discuss the matter.

4.2 An informal disciplinary interview would normally be held within 14 days of the member being informed of the concerns raised.

4.3 An informal disciplinary interview is seen as a process of constructive dialogue for resolving matters and avoiding formal disciplinary action.

4.4 As informal disciplinary meetings are confidential and do not form part of the formal disciplinary process, it is not normal for the member to be accompanied by a representative or colleague, unless prior arrangement on special grounds have been agreed with the General Secretary.

4.5 The details of an informal disciplinary interview would not normally be recorded in the member’s personal file as a disciplinary action.

4.6 The Investigation Officer will summarise the main points of the interview and recommendations, including any mitigating circumstances the member may have.

4.7 The Disciplinary Panel will decided whether the matter should be closed OR formal disciplinary proceedings will be invoked.

4.8 As an alternative to formal disciplinary proceedings, the Disciplinary Panel may offer specific support and guidance to the member as a means of improving conduct and or performance. This may include mediation or training.

  1. Disciplinary Hearing

5.1 If Formal Disciplinary Proceedings are invoked, the General Secretary (or their nominated deputy) will normally be responsible for co-ordinating proceedings.

5.2 The General Secretary will normally convene a Formal Disciplinary Hearing to take place within 3 months of the member being given notice that formal proceedings have been invoked.

5.3 Formal Disciplinary Hearings will be conducted as a face-to-face meeting OR alternative format in special circumstances as determined by the Disciplinary Panel.

5.4 The General Secretary will normally write to the member requesting attendance at a formal Disciplinary Hearing 4 weeks before the date of the hearing.

5.5 The letter will clearly outline the concerns raised about the member; details of; where and when the hearing will be held; who will be in attendance; and will include copies of all evidence supporting the concerns raised about the member.

5.6 The member must submit to the General Secretary within 2 weeks of the date of the hearing, copies of all documentary evidence they intend to rely on at the hearing and if permitted, the name and position of all witness they intend to call.

5.7 Disciplinary Hearings will be heard by the Disciplinary Panel.

5.8 Additional members may be added to the Disciplinary Panel as needed on a case-by-case basis.

5.9 The UKAHPP Administrator or their deputy will attend Disciplinary Hearing to take a written record of the meeting, which will be made available to the member.

5.10 A Chair will be appointed from the ranks of the Disciplinary Panel who will preside over proceedings for the duration of the hearing.

5.11 Before proceedings commence, the Chair of the panel will outline the structure of the hearing: allowing for the concerns raised to be put forward; the member to state their case; and for questions to be raised in order for the panel to arrive at the facts of the matter.

5.12 The Chair of the Disciplinary Panel will adjourn the hearing to allow the panel to determine if any disciplinary action is to be taken, if any.

5.13 The severity of the concerns will determine what action is taken by the Disciplinary Panel the options available are listed below and will take into account the following:

  • What actions were taken in similar cases
  • The individual’s disciplinary record.
  • Any mitigating circumstances.
  • Whether there have been any re-occurrences of misconduct or poor performance since the allegations were first raised
  • Whether the proposed action is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

5.14 The hearing will be reconvened to:

  • Inform the member of the decision and what action will be taken, if any.
  • Explain the member’s right of appeal.
  • Explain the requirements of any improvement order, including time scales, monitoring and the consequences if there is no improvement.

5.15 The Chair will close the hearing if the panel is unable to reach a decision within 90 minutes of the adjournment. The panel may conclude their deliberations the following working day if necessary and communicate their decision to the member in writing.

5.16 The General Secretary will normally confirm the panel’s decision in writing within 7 days of the hearing, with a summary of any disciplinary action.

  1. Disciplinary Actions

6.1 The seriousness of any concerns about a member and the re-occurrence of any misconduct or poor performance since the matter was raised will determine what disciplinary actions or sanctions the Disciplinary Panel will apply.

6.2 No Action

6.2.1 No disciplinary action will be initiated if the Disciplinary Panel is of the belief that the concerns raised about the member’s conduct or performance are false, incomplete, unproven or are of an exceedingly minor nature that disciplinary action would have no benefit for the member, the association or the general public.

6.2.2 Reference to the investigation will be removed from the member’s personal file.

6.2.3 The member will receive a letter from the General Secretary normally within 7 days of hearing confirming that the concerns raised have not been upheld and that no disciplinary action will be taken.

6.2.4 In such cases, the General Secretary will offer the member informal support and guidance where necessary.

6.3 Verbal Warning

6.3.1 If the concerns raised about the member are upheld as a result of the member’s own admission or the presentation of the facts and if the nature of the misconduct is sufficiently minor, the Disciplinary Panel may issue a verbal warning, which will be communicated to the member in writing by the General Secretary normally within 7 days of the hearing.

6.3.2 The member will also be informed that further disciplinary action may be taken if the member fails to improve their conduct or performance.

6.3.3 Where the member holds formal UKAHPP office, the Disciplinary Panel, via the General Secretary may initiate a performance improvement plan, which will normally be communicated to the member in writing within 7 days of the hearing.  A copy of the plan will be kept on file until its requirements have been fulfilled.

6.3.4 All reference to a verbal warning normally will be removed from the member’s UKAHPP file, held by the UKAHPP Administrator 6 months after the hearing, provided that the member’s conduct has improved without further offence and completion of any performance improvement requirements.

6.3.5 The member is required to inform the General Secretary when performance improvement requirements have been complied with. Failure to do so may lead to further disciplinary action.

6.4 Written Warning

6.4.1 The Disciplinary Panel may issue a Written Warning if:

  • The member’s conduct/performance remains unsatisfactory or further offences are reported whilst a Verbal Warning remains in force.
  • The member’s conduct or performance has been proven to be of a serious nature by the Disciplinary Hearing OR by the member’s own admission.

6.4.2 A Written Warning will be issued to the member, by the Disciplinary Panel via the General Secretary, normally within 7 days of the hearing. It will detail the nature of the misconduct, the improvements required, the timescale for improving conduct and date of review. The letter will also state that further disciplinary action may be taken if the member fails to improve their conduct or performance.

6.4.3 The General Secretary will write to the member normally 14 days before the specified review date, outlining how the review will be conducted and what evidence the member must provide. The General Secretary will also confirm the format of the review, joining instructions and who is entitled to attend.

6.4.4 A copy of the written warning will normally remain on the member’s personal file, held by the Association’s administrator for 12 months subject to satisfactory conduct improvement and completion of performance improvement requirements.

6.5 Final Written Warning

6.5.1 A Final Written Warning may be issued if:

  • The member’s conduct or performance persists after a Written Warning notice has been issued but the seriousness of the misconduct does not justify dismissal.
  • The member’s conduct is of a serious nature and there have been no previous warnings issued.

6.5.2 A Final Written Warning will normally be issued to the member, by the Board of Directors via the General Secretary, within 7 days of the hearing, detailing the nature of the misconduct, the improvements required, the timescale for improving conduct and date of review. The letter will also state that further disciplinary action, including dismissal, may take place if the member fails to improve their conduct or performance.

6.5.3 The General Secretary will contact the member normally 14 days before the specified review date, outlining how the review will be conducted and what evidence the member must provide. The General Secretary will also confirm the format of the review, joining instructions and who is entitled to attend.

6.5.4 A copy of the Final Written Warning will normally remain on the member’s file, held by the association’s administrator for 2 years subject to satisfactory conduct improvement and completion of performance improvement requirements.

6.5.5 The member will normally be informed of their right of to submit an appeal against a Final Written Warning Order in writing to the Board of Directors within 14 days of the order, stating how they believe disciplinary proceedings have not been applied appropriately in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure OR how they believe a Final Written Warning is unfair and disproportionate.

6.6 Dismissal Order

6.6.1 If all previous warnings produce no improvement in a member’s conduct or performance, the Board of Directors may issue a Dismissal Order, removing the member from the UKAHPP Membership.

6.6.2 A Dismissal Order for non-practice related conduct or performance concerns about a member whose name is on the UKAHPP Register of Humanistic Psychotherapists and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor will also result in removal of the member’s UKAHPP Accreditation and or Registration.

6.6.3 The professional standing/status of the member on the register will be recorded for a maximum of 12 months as “Removed for Administrative Reasons” or other approved terms agreed by the Disciplinary Panel and UKAHPP Registrar on case by case bases.

6.6.4 The Disciplinary Panel will also determine on a case by case basis whether Dismissal Orders will appear of the UKAHPP Hearings and Determinations website page and of so how long they will be posted.

6.6.5 The UKAHPP Registrar will be informed of the Hearing Panel’s ruling and make the necessary entry on the register; and inform other professional organisations of the member’s professional standing/status as necessary.

6.6.6 The General Secretary will normally confirm in writing within 7 days of the date of the Dismissal Order, confirming the reasons for the dismissal, the enforcement day and the member’s right to exercise a Final Right of Appeal to the UKAHPP Membership in person at a General Meeting.

6.6.7 A Final Right of Appeal must be submitted within 14 days of the Dismissal Order being issued, stating how they believe disciplinary proceedings have not been applied appropriately in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure OR how they believe the Dismissal Order is unfair and disproportionate.

  1. Gross Professional Misconduct: Summary Dismissal of Membership

7.1 If following an initial investigation the Board of Directors believes that the member has committed an act of Gross Professional Misconduct, they may issue without notice a Summary Dismissal Order see 6.6.

7.2 The General Secretary will normally write to the member on behalf of the Board of Directors within 7 days of the Dismissal Order being issued, outlining the reasons for the member’s dismissal and member’s right to exercise a Final Right of Appeal against a Dismissal Order in person to the UKAHPP Membership at a General Meeting

7.3 A Final Right of Appeal must be submitted within 14 days of the Dismissal Order being issued, stating how they believe disciplinary proceedings have not been applied appropriately in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure OR how they believe the Dismissal Order is unfair and disproportionate.

7.4 Unless the Board of Directors have immediate concern about risk to public safety, the General Secretary will normally not inform the UKAHPP Registrar of a member’s dismissal until the deadline for submitting an appeal has expired OR in the case of an appeal, not until after it has been heard and a decision has been made.

7.5 Examples of gross professional misconduct include:

  • Deliberate falsification of expenses claims
  • Deliberate or negligent disclosure of private and confidential information about the association, members or members of the public
  • Convictions of a criminal offence that undermine a member’s ability to carry out their role as an officer of the association or professional standing as a practitioner
  • Repeated acts of misconduct
  • Use of abusive or offensive language or behaviour, including physical violence, in a professional capacity or in the performance of any official duties.
  • Bullying, harassment, physical or sexual abuse of any colleague or member of the public
  • Deliberate and malicious disruption or plans to cause harm or disrupt the functioning of UKAHPP
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst performing official duties
  • Theft, misappropriation or unlawful destruction of UKAHPP property
  • Deliberate or negligent misuse of UKAHPP equipment or materials
  • Gross failure to abide or knowingly not abide with the UKAHPP constitution, and governance requirements including statutory and other professional requirements governing UKAHPP
  • Misrepresenting or falsifying personal information about experience, qualifications, capabilities or performance relevant to the member’s registration, accreditation or appointment
  • Failure of officers to declare significant conflicts of interest
  1. Appeal to the Board of Directors

8.1 A member may submit an appeal against a Final Written Warning to the Board of Directors within 14 days of the order being issued, stating how they believe disciplinary proceedings have not been applied appropriately in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure OR how they believe a Final Written Warning is unfair and disproportionate.  Any evidence in support of the appeal must be attached.

8.2 The General Secretary will write to the member normally within 7 days acknowledging receipt of the appeal.

8.3 The Board of Directors may consider the appeal at the next Full Board Meeting OR call a teleconference of the Full Board of Directors, at which a vote will be taken either to uphold or reject the appeal.

8.4 The Board of Directors will review all information relating to the concerns raised about the member and the procedure followed for issuing a Final Written Warning.

8.5 Although members of the Disciplinary Panel will be available to the Board of Directors to clarify any question about the concerns raised about the member and the processed followed for arriving at a Final Written Warning, they will withdraw from the meeting whilst the Board of Directors deliberate their decision. The Disciplinary Panel will return to the meeting and be informed of the Board’s decision

8.6 The Board of Directors may:

  • Uphold the appeal completely and withdraw the Final Written Warning.
  • Uphold the appeal and issue a lesser and more proportionate Disciplinary Order
  • Rule in favour of the Disciplinary Panel’s decision but cannot increase or apply any additional disciplinary action.

8.7 The General Secretary will normally write to the member within 7 days of the appeal hearing, summarising the outcome of the appeal and the action to be taken.

  1. Final Right of Appeal

9.1 A member ant exercise a Final Right of Appeal against a Dismissal Order to the UKAHPP Membership in person at a General Meeting

9.2 A Final Right of Appeal must be submitted within 14 days of the Dismissal Order being issued, stating how they believe disciplinary proceedings have not been applied appropriately in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure OR how they believe the Dismissal Order is unfair and disproportionate.  Any evidence they intend to use in support of their appeal must be attached

9.3 The General Secretary will normally acknowledge in writing a member’s notice to exercise a Final Right of Appeal within 7 days of receipt of the notice.

9.4 A minimum of 21 days written notice to the whole UKAHPP Membership is required if the appeal is to be heard at an Annual General Meeting OR 14 days notice if the hearing is to be heard at Extraordinary General Meeting.

9.5 The UKAHPP External Moderator or an alternative external consultant will preside for the duration of the appeal and in conjunction with the General Secretary will set the date and structure of the hearing.

9.6 The General Secretary will normally write to the member within 6 weeks of the appeal hearing, confirming the date, venue and structure of the hearing and who will  be in attendance.

9.7 The UKAHPP Administrator or their deputy will take minutes.

9.8 The Board of Directors will nominate from their ranks a Director who shall put forward the concerns raised about the member and the procedure followed for issuing a Dismissal Order.

9.9 Any decision and limits to audio/video recording of proceedings will be agreed before the hearing commences.

9.10 The External Moderator will outline the structure of the hearing for the Board and the Member to put forward their cases and the raising of any clarifying questions, to enable the membership to arrive at the facts and make a decision.

9.11 The External Moderator will ask the member to leave the room whilst the membership cast their vote.

9.12 A vote of a member entitled to vote, will be taken on the proposal for Reinstatement of UKAHPP membership. A two-thirds majority vote of those present will be needed for reinstatement of membership to take effect.

9.13 The External Moderator will explain how votes will be cast and counted.

9.14 The External Moderator will not have a vote.

9.15 The member will be invited back into the room and the External Moderator will confirm the outcome of the vote. The hearing will then close.

9.16 The UKAHPP Membership’s decision will be final with no further right of appeal.

9.17 The General Secretary will normally write to the member within 7 days of the appeal, confirming the outcome of the hearing.

9.18 The Board of Directors in consultation with the UKAHPP Registrar will decided on case by case basis whether a Dismissal Order should be included on the UKAHPP Register of Humanistic Psychotherapists and Psychotherapeutic Counsellors or posted on the UKAHPP website Hearings and Determinations page.

  1. Suspension

10.1 In the event of a severe breach of disciplinary rules constituting gross professional misconduct and it is believed that the member may impede the disciplinary investigation process or commit further offences, the Board of Directors may decided to suspend a member’s UKAHPP Membership during the initial period of investigation.

10.2 A Suspension Order is not a disciplinary action and may be removed at any stage of the disciplinary process.

10.3 If on completion of the investigation process it is decided that no disciplinary action is necessary, the Suspension Order will be removed immediately, membership will be reinstated and all record of the Suspension Orderr will be deleted from the member’s personal file.

Version Control:

Version Status Description Date Completed
1.2 Approved Working document 2018/03/10
1.1 Draft Establishing procedure 2018/03/05