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BASW responds to member confusion about issues surrounding College membership

BASW is alerting social workers to questions members have raised about The College of Social Work. These misunderstandings centre on the Corporate Membership, Professional Capabilities Framework and the availability of workplace representation.

1. Employers who are considering purchasing Corporate Membership of TCSW have to be careful not to act illegally by giving their staff the impression that they have to join TCSW. Under the Declaration of Human Rights and associated legislation it is not legal for any employer to require staff to be a member of a professional association or trade union. Employers can only insist on staff being a member of the regulatory body that gives them their professional licence to practise.

We have already been contacted by members in authorities which have taken out Corporate Membership with TCSW who have felt pressure exerted on them to join TCSW. Other staff have been told their job requires them to be a member.

This is potentially illegal practice by the employer.

2. On the PCF, BASW has heard from members who have been told by their employers that access to this career development framework requires membership of TCSW. This is not the case. It is important all social workers understand they do not need to join TCSW to be able to access the PCF documents which are freely available on the TCSW website.

BASW regrets it has been asked by TCSW to remove from the BASW website all PCF documentation. Despite BASW's involvement in producing the PCF, through its membership of the Social Work Reform Board, the professional association for social work has been told that because TCSW owns the copyright to the PCF publications it will not allow us to host them on our website. This is despite the fact BASW was prepared to emphasise the TCSW copyright on its website and all hosted documents carry a clear TCSW logo.

3. BASW is concerned that a number of social workers have told the Association they believe TCSW offers workplace representation services.

TCSW is clear that it does not offer these services, and in fact its refusal to see the provision of these services as an important part of the role of a UK College of Social Work was one of the causes of it walking away from our joint talks.

The misinformation is worrying as social workers could put themselves at risk if they join TCSW assuming they will receive workplace representation at a time of need, when in fact this service is not available.

Commenting on the need to ensure social workers are properly informed about these issues, BASW's Acting Chief Executive Bridget Robb said: 
"BASW does need to emphasise the reality about TCSW membership because whether as a result of misinterpretation or confusion some social workers have clearly received the wrong impression about crucial issues surrounding the Corporate Membership scheme, the PCF and workplace representation.

"On the wider issue of promoting access to the PCF, which BASW members and staff made a significant contribution to through our work on the SWRB, I am disappointed that TCSW has been so unwilling to allow BASW to have the PCF documents on our website. It is very frustrating the SWRB has decided tools that so many people helped develop should be the copyright property of a single organisation.

"Since TCSW walked away from merger talks with BASW we have been getting on with the job, speaking out across national print and broadcast media on a range of major issues, from the Rochdale child sex exploitation case to the thoroughly inaccurate portrayal of social work on EastEnders, as well as continuing to campaign for more protection for social workers from 'name and shame' websites. We have also launched our new website, offering more content and a stronger showcase for the work we do.

"Members may have noted that we did not issue a line-by-line response to TCSW's Q&A posted on its website recently, in which it attempted to justify its decision to walk away from talks aimed at uniting the social work profession. Quite simply, we understand that many social workers find the whole saga utterly frustrating and tedious and that tit-for-tat between the two organisations is of little interest to the majority of the profession. 

"However, when social workers come to us to express confusion and uncertainty about the choices they have to make over the way they spend their increasingly limited resources, we are obliged to respond and to ensure there is absolute clarity across the profession."