When you think of the word professional regulation, what comes to mind? Hard-to-follow rules? A legalistic concept with no real impact on the HR profession? In reality, professional regulation is critical – not only in the world of HR but in the world of work.
What is Professional Regulation?
HR professionals have a profound influence in workplaces. But like so many other workers in influential positions, much can go wrong when HR isn’t practiced well. This can include loss of productivity, physically unsafe workplaces, toxic workplaces, harassment, bullying, violence, employee rights violations and many more. (Check out the ‘Did You Know?’ section for examples of these harms.)
These potential harms encouraged the Ontario government to grant the privilege of self-regulation to the HR profession, and to transform HRPA into a professional regulator with the paramount objective of promoting and protecting the public. As a regulatory body, HRPA ensures our members, firms, and students practice the profession in a competent and ethical manner by setting standards and issuing guidance.
Did You Know?
70% of workers have experienced harassment in the workplace
3 out 5 Black Canadians report racism as a problem in their workplace
52% of Indigenous Peoples are highly on guard against bias in the workplace
66% of Asian employees said workplace racism has hurt their work relationships.
1 in 10 women experience gender-based discrimination at work
$6 billion is the median loss of unplanned absenteeism
It’s clear that there is significant progress to be made when it comes to providing Ontarians with employment and workplaces that are free of harm. Providing employment and workplaces that are free of harms will require the joint efforts of registrants and their professional regulatory body, HRPA.
How does HRPA aim to minimize harms to the pubic?
- By ensuring that only individuals with the necessary qualifications to practice the HR profession in a safe and effective manner are allowed to register with HRPA or to be certified by HRPA and to ensure that only individuals with the necessary qualifications are authorized to perform certain activities
- By ensuring that the HR profession has the practice standards and the practice guidelines required to help registrants apply the standards so that the risks of harm to the public are minimized
- By ensuring that, once registered, registrants continue to maintain their knowledge, skill, and competence and continue to practice their profession in a way that minimizes the risks to the public
- By ensuring that regulatory activities within and outside of the organization are coordinated to achieve maximum impact on the promotion and protection of the public interest. These activities should aim to reduce, suppress, mitigate, or eliminate the risks of harms to the public stemming from the practice of the HR profession
- By dealing with registrants who may have failed to live up to the standards of the profession in order to protect the public from any further harm and restore confidence in the HR profession
- By managing relations with stakeholders in such a way as to develop and maintain public confidence in the profession and in the regulation of the profession.
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Explore these learning tools and resources for a more information on professional regulation:
Dive deeper into professional regulation with our on-demand webinars! These webinars are produced by the Office of the Registrar and are from the Understanding Professional Regulation series. These webinars are eligible for CPD, offered at no cost and are open to both registrants and non-registrants. Access webinars
Take a few minutes to gain a more in-depth understanding of professional regulation through these insightful videos.
Frequently Asked Questions
The public interest can be a murky concept. For example, while our Act states that HRPA is meant to promote and protect the public interest by governing our registrants, the Ontario legislature did not include a definition. Even in the absence of a clear definition though, a generally accepted hallmark of the public interest is public service mindedness. Or, in other words, an understanding that the members of a profession will use their unique set of skills and knowledge to benefit society overall. For registered HR professionals, that can, for example, mean ensuring that any health and safety concerns in their organization are addressed immediately rather than suppressing them in favor of the bottom line.
In a nutshell, HRPA sets out standards and guidelines, including a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, to help our members, students and firms (HR professionals that are registered with the HRPA) practice HR competently, professionally, and ethically – and ultimately in a way that benefits the public.
By choosing to be registered, HRPA members, students and firms commit to practicing HR in a manner that is consistent with the public interest, such as taking on a leadership role in bringing about fair and equitable workplaces and employment relationships. At its core, public protection is a joint endeavour. While HRPA can set out a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct and support registrants in their practice through issuing professional guidance and providing learning opportunities, our registrants themselves are at the frontline of providing ethical and competent HR services.
The incompetent and/or unethical practice of Human Resources can lead to real harms for the public, employees and employers alike, including loss of productivity, physically unsafe workplaces, toxic workplaces, harassment, bullying, violence, employee rights violations and many more.
By choosing to employ registered HRPA members, students or firms, employers and employees can be assured that the HR professional has committed to a baseline of ethical and professional expectations through HRPA’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct – which all registered HRPA members, students or firms must adhere to in their everyday practice. As an employer or an employee, this means that you can refer to the Code of Ethics and the Rules of Professional Conduct to determine what you should expect from a registered HR professional within your organization – and when that HR professional may fall short of those expectations. Furthermore, if as an employer or employee you believe an HR professional has fallen short of those expectations, you have the ability to file a professional complaint with HRPA to address the issue. HR professionals not registered with HRPA are not bound by the same professional obligations, and as such it may be more challenging to hold them accountable for potential unethical or unprofessional behavior.
When someone joins the HRPA as a registered HR professional, they commit to upholding HRPA’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as any other professional guidance issued by HRPA – including professional standards and guidelines.
We’ll give you seven ways registered HR professionals benefit from professional regulation:
- Status. If you’re registered to the HRPA and have an HRPA designation, you can legally use those designations (CHRP, CHRL, CHRE) in your title. These designations signal to clients and employers that you have the knowledge and expertise needed to excel in the HR profession
- Recognition. As a member, the public will have greater confidence in your practice. They can easily find you listed on the HRPA’s public registrar, demonstrating that you meet best practice standards and qualifications in HR.
- Stakeholder Support. When you’re part of a regulatory body like the HRPA – with the purpose of protecting public interest – access to government is so much easier. Your voice is amplified.
- Reputation. We protect the reputation of the HR profession through our disciplinary measures and standards. We know that a small number of “bad apples” can ruin the entire “barrel”- giving HR professionals a bad name.
- Support. You’re supported in your work through our conduct, resources, and community. There are times when employers and clients may try to pressure practitioners to cut corners or do something that is unethical – but having a regulatory body like the HRPA in your corner can make all the difference.
- Consistency. Having a statutory body with effective regulatory tools can ensure that all members are effectively regulated to the same standard.
- Authority. Life tends to be easier for everyone when there is clarity and certainty. The HRPA is the authority on the practice of HR giving you a defined roadmap for your practice. Essentially, members benefit from a regulatory body that can provide guidelines and standards that are backed by the government.