Social workers in Wales found guilty of misconduct could be allowed to continue practising under certain conditions, under proposals floated by the Care Council for Wales.
The regulator wants to extend the sanctions available and streamline the process of dealing with complaints.
The changes will be subject to a 12-week consultation due to start in the autumn.
Under the proposals, conduct committees would be given additional powers to impose conditions such as re-training requirements in conduct cases, bringing the system into line with healthcare regulation.
The conditions could be attached to a suspension order, or social workers could be allowed to continue to practise providing they meet the requirements.
The regulator also wants to “streamline” the conduct process in cases where professionals are facing allegations of misconduct but the case is unlikely to result in removal from the register.
The professionals involved would be allowed to agree an undertaking with Care Council for Wales officials, to take specific action over a period of three years to reduce the likelihood of repeating the misconduct.
Gerry Evans, director of standards and regulation at the Care Council for Wales, said: “The changes we are proposing are born out of six years’ experience of dealing with cases of alleged misconduct by workers registered with the Care Council.
“They are designed to streamline the processes of the Care Council and minimise distress to registrants who are accused of misconduct and those who have made complaints, while also ensuring our system remains as robust and fair as ever. The changes will help us resolve cases at an earlier stage and make the whole process more effective and efficient.”
The General Social Care Council is also considering the introduction of powers to impose conditions of practice in conduct cases in England, following a recommendation from the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.
However, a consultation on the changes to the GSCC’s conduct system, due to begin earlier this year, has been delayed by the arrival of a new coalition government led by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
A spokesperson for the GSCC was unable to say when the consultation was due to start, and added: “As with any change of government ministers will take time to establish the priorities in their department.”