Information

Funeral directors: draft code of practice

The draft statutory code of practice for funeral directors (updated January 2023) will be key to underpinning the statutory inspection of funeral directors in Scotland. Funeral directors will be inspected against this code once it comes into force.


Introduction

1. The Funeral Director: Code of Practice ('the Code') applies to all funeral directors carrying out the functions of a funeral director in Scotland regardless of where their business is based.

2. The Code has been informed by the knowledge and expertise of members of the funeral profession and is guided by principles of responsible practice. The desired outcome from implementing the Code is that every person in Scotland will have a dignified and respectful funeral and bereaved families can be reassured that good standards of care will be provided.

3. The Code requires funeral directors to adhere to minimum standards in their care of the deceased and to provide transparency in the goods and services offered to the bereaved.

Definition of a funeral director

4. For the purposes of the Code, a funeral director is defined as:

'A person whose business consists of or includes the arrangement and conduct of funerals.'

5. This is the definition given to 'funeral director' in the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 ('2016 Act') (see section 107 of that Act).

Legal Basis and issuing of the Code

6. The 2016 Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2016 and provides the statutory framework to issue the Code and to appoint Inspectors of Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors.

7. Section 97 of the 2016 Act states:

(1) A funeral director must comply with any Code of Practice issued by the Scottish Ministers about the carrying out of a funeral director's functions (a "funeral director's code").

(2) Before issuing any funeral director's Code, the Scottish Ministers must consult –

(a) persons appearing to the Scottish Ministers to be representative of the interests of funeral directors in Scotland, and

(b) other persons appearing to the Scottish Ministers to have an interest.

(3) After taking account of any representations received by them by virtue of subsection (2), the Scottish Ministers must lay a draft of the funeral director's Code before the Scottish Parliament.

(4) The Scottish Ministers may not issue a funeral director's Code unless a draft of the Code is approved by resolution of the Scottish Parliament.

(5) The Scottish Ministers must publish a funeral director's Code in such a manner as they consider appropriate.

(6) The Scottish Ministers must keep under review a funeral director's Code.

(7) In this section, references to a funeral director's code include references to a funeral director's Code as revised from time to time by the Scottish Ministers.

Outcomes

8. The Code aims to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Increase transparency of choice of goods and services to help customers make informed decisions.
  • Ensure minimum standards of care of the deceased.
  • Establish and promote a common understanding of good practice in relation to care of the deceased.

Accountability and compliance

9. The Code applies to all funeral directors carrying out the functions of a funeral director in Scotland regardless of where their business is based.

10. The Code does not negate the responsibility of the funeral director to adhere to and take account of other legislation and guidance. It is the responsibility of each funeral director to ensure that they are operating in accordance with all relevant legislation.

11. Inspectors will carry out inspections against the standards set out in the Code. They will also investigate and address serious or significant complaints. Inspectors must not be obstructed or prevented from speaking to any staff member(s) during an inspection. Inspectors' enforcement and compliance functions and powers will be set out in Regulations made by the Scottish Ministers under section 90 of the 2016 Act.

12. The Scottish Government and inspectors will work collaboratively with funeral directors in the administration of the Code. The Scottish Government will periodically review the Code in consultation with inspectors and funeral directors as well as the representative trade associations and make any necessary changes in line with the changing needs of the profession.

Existing codes and trade associations

13. For many years trade associations have played an important role in promoting best practice and in improving operational practice amongst their members. The Code has been developed in collaboration with trade associations and other members of the profession. It recognises there are existing trade association codes of practice and best practice guidance.

Contact

Email: burialandcremation@gov.scot

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