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Protecting consumers by improving professional standards.
Professional Standards Schemes

Your ongoing responsibilities

For most associations, being recognised with a Professional Standards Scheme requires them to make substantial improvements to their professional standards systems and self-regulatory capacity.

This is because you will have a range of statutory obligations to meet under professional standards legislation if your Professional Standards Scheme is approved. You should have strategies, systems and resources to meet these legislative obligations before you apply for a scheme.

These will form the basis of your Professional Standards Improvement Program, which includes the following professional standards systems. To find out more, speak to a dedicated Professional Standards Scheme Manager.

Continuing professional development programs

You should have continuing professional development programs in place to:

  • Address any identified trends, knowledge gaps or consumer risks in your industry
  • Continually improve your members’ professional standards and practices
  • Make sure your members continue to meet high professional standards.
Complaints handling and disciplinary systems

Understanding the consumer risks that arise as your members provide services and practice their profession is critical to effective self-regulation and consumer protection.

It is therefore essential that you establish and monitor consumer complaint channels and discipline systems. This will help you gain a better understanding of your members, and continually improve your standards of practice.

For more, download our policy on complaints handling and disciplinary systems.

Use of the disclosure statement

Under professional standards legislation, you and all participating members of your scheme have a responsibility to disclose your limited liability on business documentation. You need to educate your members about this obligation, and monitor and oversee its use.

We also recommend, and may require, that you take disciplinary action against any members that use the disclosure statement incorrectly.

Risk management reporting

You’ll need to submit a five-year risk management strategy when you apply for your Professional Standards Scheme. This must identify any risks your members face in their normal practice, as well as the actions you plan to take to mitigate these risks.

You’ll be required to report on the progress of your five-year risk management plan to us each year. We’ll generally consider it unacceptable for you to have made no changes to your plan over the course of each year, as this may indicate a failure to respond to the changing nature of practice, and the need to continually improve professional standards.

Insurance cover, claims and business assets monitoring

Professional Standards Schemes cap the civil liability of association members that participate in the scheme to a limit specified in the scheme. However, this doesn’t replace the requirement for professional indemnity insurance.

Under professional standards legislation, it’s essential you ensure your members have adequate insurance cover and/or business assets to cover their liability under your Professional Standards Scheme. You’ll be required to:

  • Impose and enforce the requirement to have sufficient insurance cover and/or assets to cover their liability under your Professional Standards Scheme in the event of litigation
  • Monitor your members’ compliance with this requirement on an ongoing basis
  • Collect data on insurance claims made against your members
  • Report on all of the above to us each year.
Annual audit of members

If your Professional Standards Scheme is approved, you’ll be required to pay fees based on the number of participating members in your scheme. You must complete an independent audit certificate to us that validates your membership numbers, and send a copy of this to us when you pay your fees.

Annual reporting requirements

Associations with a Professional Standards Scheme are required to complete an Annual Report on your Professional Standards Improvement Program by 31 March each year. This annual report must cover the actions, policies and decisions you’ve carried out to meet your legislative obligations during the previous calendar year.

Failure to complete these annual reports on time would place you in breach of professional standards legislation. You must make sure you have the resources and processes to collect, analyse and report on each of your statutory requirements on an ongoing basis. Learn more about what you’d need to include in these annual reports.