How an employer can check if an optical professional is registered with us
If you are an employer, there are checks you should carry out with us before employing an optometrist or a dispensing optician, and after employment has started.
For simplicity, in this guidance we use the blanket term ‘optician’ to refer to both optometrists and dispensing opticians, except where additional clarity is necessary.
Checking an optician's registration status
All opticians must be registered with us in order to legally work. Our publicly-searchable online register gives up-to-date information on an optician's registration details and current registration status.
The pre-employment checks that you should carry out with the GOC before employing an optician are:
- Is the optician currently registered with the GOC?
- If the optician is hoping to perform specialty tasks, do they have the appropriate specialty recorded on their entry on the register?
- Do any conditions or restrictions apply to the optician’s registration?
- Is the optician currently under investigation regarding their fitness to practise?
- Does the GOC number the optician has given you match the details shown on the GOC's online register?
Do not rely on a locum agency to check an optician's current status on the register for you.
If an optician has previously been employed elsewhere in the UK, you still need to check their registration details, as their status on the register may have changed since they were last employed.
Please note a certificate of registration is not evidence that an optician is currently registered with the GOC. An optician’s registration status can change at any time. You should always check the optician’s current status on the register yourself before employing them.
‘Letters of good standing’: Checking past fitness to practise details and whether an optician is currently under investigation
We recommend that you check whether an optician is currently being investigated by us before completing an offer of employment.
You can do this by completing an 'application for a registrant check' and we will provide you with a letter setting out the registrant’s full registration and fitness to practise history and current investigation status (known as a ‘letter of good standing’).
To avoid any possibility of fraud, you should request this letter directly from us yourself. Do not ask your prospective employees to supply a letter of good standing themselves as part of their employment application. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content of any letter we have not supplied to you directly.
Please note, the information in these letters is not public, so you will need to include written consent from the registrant for us to disclose this information to you.
You can do this by either:
- Using your own standard organisational declaration and consent forms, if you have them
- Asking the registrant to complete and sign this consent form
If the registrant refuses to provide such consent, we may still be able to disclose information to you if it is in the public interest for us to do so.
Checking an optician's identity
A Certificate of Registration, letter of good standing, Certificate of Current Professional Status or similar is not evidence of an optician's identity. You must undertake your own identity checks before employing an optician, for example, ask for their original passport or an original EEA identity card.
If you have any doubts about an optician's identity, please contact us.
When an optician registers with us, either as a student or as a fully-registered optometrist or dispensing optician, they are given a reference number (a ‘GOC number’). Having a GOC number does not mean that the optician is currently on the register or is fit to practise. It is therefore important that you check the optician's registration with us. You also need to do this to ensure that the GOC number you have been given is correct, and that it belongs to the person that you want to employ. Under no circumstances should an optician use another registrant’s GOC number.
Checks during employment
Opticians may be erased from the register for administrative reasons, such as failure to pay their annual retention fee. We therefore recommend that you make regular checks of our online register for all opticians in your employment, to minimise any unnecessary disruption to your services caused by such removals.
We produce a monthly report summarising all amendments to the registers, including removals for administrative reasons and all new sanctions imposed by the Fitness to Practise Committee.
We also produce annual removals lists at the beginning of each retention period, listing the registrants who have not renewed their GOC registration or have been removed for other reasons (such as not meeting CET requirements). Employers can quickly check the status of their employees against these searchable lists.
Fitness to practise
We will pro-actively inform you if an optician you are employing becomes subject to an investigation regarding their fitness to practise.
Please note that we will only be able to do this if the registrant concerned provides details of their employment to us. You should inform us if you are concerned that the fitness to practise of an optician that you are employing or contracting with may be impaired. We will then open an investigation and ask you to provide us with sufficient information for the matter to be considered by our Investigation Committee.
For more information please refer to our Fitness to Practise guidance for employers.