Our Four Principles
The fair-access law outlines the broad, general duty of regulatory bodies to have transparent, objective, impartial and fair registration practices.
Neither the Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006, nor the Regulated Health Professions Act, includes definitions of these principles.
The Office of the Fairness Commissioner has set out the interpretations below so it may assess registration practices in a consistent and transparent way.
A process is transparent if it is conducted in such a way that it is easy to see what actions are being taken to complete the process, why these actions are taken, and what results from these actions. In the regulatory context, transparency of the registration process encompasses the following:
- Openness: having measures and structures in place that make it easy to see how the registration process operates
- Access: making registration information easily available
- Clarity: ensuring that information used to communicate about registration is complete, accurate and easy to understand
A process or decision is objective if it is based on formal systems, such as criteria, tools, and procedures that have been repeatedly tested during their development, administration and review and have been found to be valid
and reliable. In the regulatory context, objectivity of systems encompasses the following:
- Reliability: ensuring that the criteria, training, tools and procedures deliver consistent decision outcomes regardless of who makes the decision, when the decision is made, and in whatever context the decision is made
- Validity: ensuring that the criteria, training, tools and procedures measure what they intend to
A process or decision is impartial if the position from which it is undertaken is neutral. Neutrality occurs when actions or behaviours that may result in subjective assessments or decisions are mitigated. Impartiality may be achieved by ensuring that all sources of bias are identified and that steps are taken to address those biases. In the regulatory context, impartiality encompasses the following:
- Identification: having systems to identify potential sources of bias in the assessment or decision-making process (for example, sources of conflict of interest, preconceived notions, and lack of understanding of issues related to diversity)
- Strategies: having systems to address bias and enable neutrality during the assessment and decisionmaking process (for example, training policies that address conflict of interest, procedures to follow if bias is identified, and using group deliberation and consensus strategies to come to decisions)
A process or decision is considered fair in the regulatory context when all of the following are demonstrated:
- Substantive fairness: ensuring the fairness of the decision itself. The decision itself must be fair, and to be fair it must meet pre-determined and defensible criteria. The decision must be reasonable and the reasoning behind the decision must be understandable to the people affected.
- Procedural fairness: ensuring the fairness of the decision-making process. There is a structure in place to ensure that fairness is embedded in the steps to be followed before, during and after decisions are made. This structure ensures that the process is timely and that individuals have equal opportunity to participate in the registration process and demonstrate their ability to practise.
- Relational fairness: ensuring that people are treated fairly during the decision-making process by considering and addressing their perception about the process and decision.