Regulatory bodies – What we need to know

Regulatory bodies - What we need to know

Regulations are established to protect and benefit people, businesses, and the environment and to support economic growth. It also helps to control certain activities and ensures that no illegal procedures take place. There are more than 90 regulatory bodies in the UK, with total expenditure in excess of £4 billion a year. They cover a wide range of areas, such as:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Legal services providers
  • Financial institutions
  • Accountant services
  • Architecture
  • Social care organisations 
  • Transport 
  • Agriculture 
  • Food industry

A regulated profession is defined as a profession regulated by law in the UK. It is regulated by law where there is a legal requirement to have certain qualifications or experience (or meet an alternative condition or requirement) in order to undertake certain professional activities or use a protected title.

A regulatory body is a public or government agency created to oversee specific industries and practices. A regulator functions under legislation relating to the regulation of a regulated profession. Regulators carry out a range of functions in relation to the professions they regulate, including making sure individuals have the necessary qualifications and/or experience to practise the profession and taking any necessary enforcement action. In some cases, these functions are carried out by a single regulator for an individual profession and in other cases, the functions are distributed across several regulators. 

Generally, regulations are implemented to protect someone or something—whether it be employees, consumers, the public at large, or the integrity of commerce or of business processes. The entities overseeing regulation often focus on several primary areas, including the following:

  • Establishing and implementing controls at organisations
  • Keeping abreast of and assessing how organisations are complying with laws and regulations
  • Identifying and remediating areas where organisations are not complying
  • Providing ways for organisations to report on their compliance with laws and regulations

If you are a UK-based business that needs to be registered with a relevant regulatory body, you should be regulatory compliant’ and should meet the requirements for business compliance, the laws, regulations, and other rules that govern the organisations in your trading field.

In most cases your company should be registered with the regulatory body and this registration should be available in the relevant register online. You will typically be provided with the certificate of registration or license as proof of your right to trade legally in the UK.

For instance, the catering establishments in the UK must be listed in the Food Hygiene Agency register and Scores-On-The-Doors online as proof they have undergone inspection; the premises license is also required to be able to sell alcohol and for other indoor activities. Chefs and other kitchen staff will be required to have a Food Hygiene Certificate (at least level 2) to work in restaurants.

Health and care professionals must meet quite strict requirements in order to be registered with the medical regulatory body and practise in the UK. They also need to demonstrate a high level of English language knowledge that should be certified by the regulator. Medical specialists (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics) must be listed in the register online as it shows that the professionals are properly trained and qualified and meet the regulator’s standards. It is a criminal offense for anyone not on these registers to work in these regulated occupations.

It is the employer’s obligation to update the license when necessary, to have all required documentation in hand, renew it in time, and to give access to the regulator to any resources they need, e.g. if the organisation is undergoing an audit.

As an employer you must:

  • Ensure that the license is valid
  • The company is listed in the accredited register(s)
  • The company meets the standards set by the governing body
  • Keep aware of changes
  • Ensure the workers meet the standards of the profession and have the necessary qualifications to fulfil their duties
  • Ensure the job descriptions and person specifications reflect the requirements of the relevant regulatory body
  • Introduce training programs helping improve the knowledge and skills of employees to match the various changes in the industry

In collaboration with the employee, the employer needs to also check whether:

  • The employee’s education is at the necessary level
  • The employee reaches the standards of the profession
  • The employee is registered with the regulatory body (if required)
  • The employee has all the necessary permissions / licenses to do the job
  • The employee undergoes necessary training regularly and have sufficient number of CPD hours
  • The employee understands what their compliance requirements are and knows how to meet them
  • The employee demonstrates good work ethics and keeps to the organisation’s rules

A regulatory system is important for particular sectors and there are some risks related to the absence of a regulatory system:

  • Inadequate service level and quality
  • Non-compliance with contractual obligations to users, government, or other parties
  • Low efficiency in production and in the provision of goods and services
  • Inadequate level of investment in the sector
  • Frequent discontent between the parties involved

In order to eliminate or minimise these risks, a regulatory system needs to be in place. 

There is a wide network of regulators in the UK and special attention is paid to the workers who come from abroad: they need to meet the requirements of the regulator first (e.g., be registered by sitting for an exam, pass English at a sufficient level) prior to being able to apply for a visa; additionally, the candidates may need to provide a criminal record certificate if they want to work with vulnerable people, in the healthcare sector or in education.

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