Workers Advisory Group SIG Terms of Reference


The following document is the Terms of Reference for all Special Interest Groups and Working Groups for Social Care Ireland (SCI). All Groups who wish to align themselves with SCI will need to incorporate these Terms of Reference. These Terms of Reference need to be reviewed by all of the Groups and any changes to these Terms of Reference need to be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval.

1. Establishment and Purpose.

The Workers Advisory Group was established in March 2017 under the aegis of Social Care Ireland. In its establishment the Workers Advisory Group absorbed the Executive of the outgoing Irish Association of Social Care Workers. The purpose of Social Care Ireland, as noted in its constitution, is to “benefit the disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable through promoting the development and understanding of Social Care practice, education and management throughout Ireland and to act as a representative and supporting organisation for members” (include ref). The purpose of the Workers Advisory Group is to:

1.1 provide a forum for discussion and representation for social care workers.

1.2 act as a voice for social care workers both within and beyond Social Care Ireland.

1.3 advocate on matters of relevance to social care workers.

1.4 promote best practice in social care work.

1.5 promote networking and information sharing opportunities for social care workers.

2. Membership.

2.1 Membership of the WAG shall be open to individuals who subscribe to the aim of Social Care Ireland and to the purpose of the WAG.

2.2 Members of the WAG must also be current members of Social Care Ireland and have discharged the relevant fee, agreed to abide by Social Care Ireland’s code of conduct and ethics and be able to provide evidence of recent Garda Clearance.

2.3 Membership of the WAG does not require a qualification in social care nor that members be practicing social care workers. As such, membership of the WAG is open to all categories of members of Social Care Ireland.

2.4 Only individuals may become members of the WAG and membership is not open to groups, organisations, associations or other collective bodies.

2.5 The WAG recognise that on occasion it may be of value to include individuals who are not members of Social Care Ireland within its membership and such members will be designated ‘occasional members’. Occasional members may be invited onto the WAG by virtue of expertise, special interest or as the representative of an organisation and occasional members need not become members of Social Care Ireland. However, occasional members who are not members of Social Care Ireland do not benefit from voting rights within the WAG.

2.6 New members of the WAG will receive a copy of these Terms of Reference.

2.7 To facilitate succession and sustainability, membership of the WAG shall be for a period of two years, which can be renewed without limit. Members will be asked to confirm their continued desire to remain as a member of the WAG every two years.

2.8 The WAG shall consist of no less than seven members and no more than fifteen members, this excludes occasional members.

2.9 To facilitate succession and recruitment to the WAG, potential members may attend and contribute to meetings. The number of such members should not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed five individuals.

2.9.1 Potential members shall be invited to contribute to any and all relevant discussions; however they will not be entitled to vote except under 2.9.3.

2.9.2 Potential members who wish to take up the particular role of an outgoing member, for example a Disability or CAMHs representative, shall be encouraged and facilitated to shadow the current holder of the role for not less than six months.

2.9.3 After a minimum six month shadowing period, the post holder may nominate the potential members as their proxy for voting in writing prior to the meeting.

2.10 In the period until Social Care Ireland has embedded the necessary governance structure to the satisfaction of the Board of Social Care Ireland, at least three members of the WAG must be a Director of Social Care Ireland.

2.11 The membership of the WAG will elect by open ballot from its members a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer.

2.11.1 The Chairperson will be responsible, with the Secretary, for calling meetings, providing an agenda, and facilitating the meeting. Members should advise in advance and in a timely fashion both the Chairperson and Secretary of items the wish included on an agenda.

2.11.2 The Secretary will be responsible for contacting members in a timely manner to inform them of the meeting date, time and venue. The Secretary will organise the venue and distribute the agenda in advance. The Secretary will also keep minutes of meetings and distribute these in a timely fashion by email after meetings.

2.11.3. The Treasurer shall be responsible for the safe keeping, recording and presentation of accounts in relation to any and all monies made available to the WAG from Social Care Ireland. It is the responsibility of the relevant SIG/Advisory Group Treasurer to maintain the funding safely and appropriately.  Further information may be requested by the Finance Committee and/or Board of Directors relating to funding requests. Please see Finance Guidance Document within SCI policies.

2.12 The WAG can and shall agree by majority vote other roles to be created and the associated responsibilities of those roles. A member of the WAG may act in more than one role if required.

2.13 Members of the WAG may be removed under the provisions laid down for withdrawal of membership of Social Care Ireland – see Appendix (draft version).

2.14 WAG members commit to:

2.14.1 Act as role models for the promotion of social care practice.

2.14.2 Maintain dignity and respect for all members.

2.14.3 Ensure confidentiality at all times, while promoting open and honest discussion.

2.14.4 Be well informed and make a positive and constructive contribution to the work of the WAG.

2.14.5 Perform any tasks delegated in a timely manner and to the best of their ability.

2.15 The membership of Significant Interest Groups (SIG) which is established under the WAG must have one member of the WAG committee sitting on each established SIG.

3. Governance and Reporting:

3.1 The WAG will report, in writing, at least once per-annum to the Board of Directors of Social Care Ireland. This should normally take place prior to or at the SCI AGM.

3.2 The WAG will also make members available to the Board of Directors of Social Care Ireland, as needed or when requested by the Board of SCI.

3.3 The WAG will hold a meeting once per-annum at which the Chairperson, Secretary and Treasure will provide a short written report. This meeting should normally be held in advance of the SCI AGM to facilitate reporting to the SCI AGM. This meeting should also be taken as an opportunity to invite new members onto the WAG and to confirm the continued commitment of current WAG members when required.

3.4 The WAG shall hold at least four meetings per-annum and a quorum of five members is required, which includes either the Chairperson (or nominee) or Secretary (or nominee). Meetings may be held more often where deemed necessary. While attendance in person is preferred, members of the WAG may contribute to meetings by other forms of communication that allow interaction, such as phone or Skype, and such contributions will be considered attendance for the purpose of ensuring a quorum, if necessary.

3.5 Decisions of the WAG shall be made by discussion and general consensus. Decisions that are failed to be reached by this method will be made by majority vote of members in attendance at meetings.

3.6 WAG members who are unable to attend in person or through other means may, on receipt of the agenda, advise the Secretary of matters that they feel a requires a WAG decision and, may advise the Secretary of how they would vote. Both the matter and vote must be communicated in writing (email or letter, text is not sufficient) in a timely fashion in advance of the meeting. This distance vote should only be counted in a WAG vote where there is a split decision and notwithstanding 3.7 (below).

3.7 In the case of a split decision at a meeting, one of three courses of action should be followed:

3.7.1 – where appropriate, the vote should be postponed to the next WAG meeting.

3.7.2 – where circumstances allow, any WAG members not in attendance should be contacted in writing (email or letter) and asked to make their input known and to cast their vote.

3.7.3 – if necessary, due for example to time demands, the Chairperson (or nominee) or Secretary (or nominee) shall have a deciding vote.

3.8 The WAG may conduct appropriate and time limited deliberations and decision-making, including voting, via email if necessary. In such instances, reasonable time and a clear deadline for input and voting should be made known to members.

3.6 Subgroups may be convened by the WAG at its discretion to assist with specific functions and initiatives that are consistent with the WAG’s terms of reference.

3.7 Where a subgroup is established, its meetings may be arranged outside of the WAG’s meetings and at a time and via a method (for instance email) convenient to subgroup members. The frequency of a subgroup meeting will be determined by members of the subgroup.

3.8 Membership of a subgroup must include at least one WAG member with expertise and experience, appropriate to the purpose of the subgroup.

3.9 As with the WAG, occasional members, who have expertise relevant to specific subgroup projects, may be asked to join a subgroup. Occasional members need not join Social Care Ireland to be occasional members of a subgroup of the WAG. However, individuals who are not members of Social Care Ireland, do not enjoy voting rights either as part of the WAG or as a member of a WAG subgroup.

3.10 Subgroup members will abide by the requirements expected of WAG members, including majority voting (outlined above).

3.11 The subgroup will report back to the WAG periodically and as its function is to perform a specific task, it is empowered to make decisions relevant to the completion of its remit and the efficient operation of the subgroup only. Any decisions that are beyond a subgroups’ remit must be presented to the WAG for consideration and for a decision to be made.

Amendment, Modification or Variation:

These Terms of Reference will be reviewed annually and may be amended, varied or modified in writing after consultation and agreement by Workers Advisory Group members.

These Terms of Reference of SCI were adopted by the Board of Directors on the 2nd day of October 2018.

Appendix A

Obligations and Rights of SCI Members

Members of SCI are obliged to engage with others in a manner that is open and honest and, which reaffirms respect and dignity for the intrinsic worth of all people. Members are also obliged to behave in a manner that maintains high ethical standards, the good name of SCI and social care work, and that ensures that SCI can meet its ethical, legal and statutory obligations.

Members of SCI have the right to freedom of thought, speech and action, so long as these freedoms are enacted with due regard to the rights of others. In addition, members of SCI have the right to enjoy the presumption of innocence and the principles of natural justice, namely to have a fair opportunity to input into decisions that may adversely affect them, to be treated without prejudice or bias in instances where a judgement is to be made, to procedural fairness, and to have any judgements made on the grounds of evidence rather than speculation or suspicion.

Section 3.5 of the SCI Constitution reaffirms these rights and members of the company may be sanctioned or expelled by Resolution of the Directors ‘PROVIDED that he shall have been given notice of the intended resolution for his expulsion and shall have been afforded an opportunity of giving orally or in writing to the Directors any explanation or defence as he may think fit’ (SCI Constitution, 3.5. Emphasis in original)

Procedures in the case of an allegation of misconduct or behaviour unbefitting of a member of SCI

Allegations of misconduct or behaviour unbefitting of a member may be made to the Board of SCI or where the allegation relates to the Director, it can be made to the Chairperson of the Board of SCI. Should any allegations relate to the Chairperson of the Board of SCI, this can be made to any member of the Board of SCI.

Where the allegation is not considered vexatious*, SCI shall –

  • Provide to the member in a timely fashion, all information in relation to the allegations, including relevant documentation.
  • Afford reasonable time for the member to consider those allegations.
  • Provide the member with the opportunity to reply to those allegations.
  • Provide the member the opportunity to have another individual present at any meeting to support them.
  • Provide the member the opportunity to call witnesses on their behalf and/or to provide relevant documentation.
  • Provide fair and impartial individuals to adjudicate on the case.
  • Consider both the intent of the member and the context within which decisions were made and actions undertaken, as well as the consequences and outcomes.
  • Provide written confirmation of the decision and the reasons for it.

*Vexatious or malicious complaints by members are unbefitting of the behaviour expected of members and SCI reserves the right to initiate misconduct proceedings against the complainant in such instances.

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