Ensuring everything is above board
SELECT’s Registration Board is a vital part of the organisation, working quietly and effectively behind the scenes to deal with any complaints against Members. We spoke to its Chairman, Stan Johnston, to find out exactly how it does it
Hello Stan. What is the SELECT Registration Board and what does it do?
The Registration Board was set up 15 years ago to oversee the SELECT complaints procedures and ensure all complaints are dealt with in a fair and proper and timeous manner. When the Registration Board meets, we look at what has been going on in SELECT that may affect the proper governance of the organisation. The core of the meeting, however, is to look at complaints. Any electrician who signs up to become a member of SELECT signs a code of conduct and if he or she does not behave within the code of conduct, SELECT will take appropriate action.
How do you deal with the complaints?
Members of the public typically, lodge complaints with SELECT about the conduct or behaviour of Members or the quality of work they have done. We usually handle two or three complaints at each meeting, but it can be anything up to a dozen. The technical team will have looked at each complaint and formed an opinion about what needs to be done; they may have taken some action by the time we look at it. We have to deem whether the course of action is appropriate.
What kind of action can be taken against Members?
It could range from simply sending a letter giving a rap on the knuckles to an electrician being subjected to a further inspection by the technical team. Members have to go through a periodic inspection to make sure they comply with the standards that SELECT put upon them. We can say: “OK, let’s have an inspection of these people”, or “let’s make sure they have an inspection every six months or year rather than the usual two years”. It can go all the way to expulsion from SELECT for a contractor. That can’t be done by the Registration Board; the Registration Board can make a recommendation to SELECT’s Central Board, which is the management board, and then they can take a decision based on that recommendation.
What else does the Board do?
We sometimes get contractors and their customers together and help to resolve the impasse situations that can arise. It’s an informal type of dispute resolution. I take that responsibility myself usually, but sometimes we have some other independent people involved. I can recall one instance where we had a contractor who had agreed a contract with a client who was notionally a property developer and also a lawyer to trade. And he had agreed the contract on a handshake! We pointed out to them that really that’s not good enough. The one thing that it doesn’t cover is contractual disputes. So if a customer phones up SELECT and complains that a contractor is charging them too much but they don’t have a quote in writing, well, the contractors are supposed to give you things in writing and he will get his knuckles rapped for that.
What does the role of Chairman entail?
I’ve been the Chairman of the Board ever since it was set up. Our first task was to write a remit, based on a draft presented to us by SELECT, and we had to go through that line by line to make sure it was entirely fit for purpose. As a registered trade body, SELECT needs to have external oversight. I’m not employed by SELECT and I’m not an electrician to trade. I’ve been in the building industry doing mechanical and electrical engineering for 40 years and have run my own consultancy business for most of that time. I have a lot of familiarity with the electrical industry but I’m not directly engaged with SELECT.
Who else sits on the Board?
The other Board members are representatives of the local branches, plus some other independent people. The independent people represent bodies such as the Institute of Electrical Engineers, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, RoSPA, the Electrical Distributors’ Association and others like that. We’re involved in the safety and proper management of the electrical industry from bodies that SELECT interacts with.
Why do you think SELECT and its work is so important?
The whole point and purpose of SELECT existing is to make sure that the quality of electrical work carried out in Scotland is to proper standards. Electricity is of course dangerous stuff if it’s not dealt with properly, so what we need to ensure is that all people carrying out electrical installation work are doing it properly. That means they have to be up to date with training, on legislation matters of health and safety and so on, and it means they have to be working in a proper professional manner and their accounts are right. SELECT provides them with a mechanism to keep all their training up to date, in the form of training courses and updates about revised regulations. SELECT also provides a backstop for a contractor’s clients, in the case of something terrible happening.
How has membership of SELECT changed over the years?
As a trade association, SELECT has to work hard to ensure that its Members carry out work in the proper manner. Some years ago the regulations were changed so that contractors could self-certify their work, and that means they have to be fully aware of all the regulations. That was what really sparked SELECT to create the Registration Board. All the certification is now done online and that can present a challenge for some of the older guys who have been in the industry for a long time.