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Professional Working Conditions

BASW and SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University are leading a campaign for improved working conditions for social workers.

The latest research findings (August 2018) have now been launched.

The research finds that social workers are strongly engaged in their work, and want the very best outcomes for people that use services, but they are hampered by a lack of resources, high case and administrative loads and inadequate opportunities for structured reflective practice. 

Join the campaign.  Encourage your colleagues to call for improved working conditions and wellbeing for social workers:

  • Invite us to your team meeting or away day 
  • Engage with SASW seminars on reflective practice - we can do one in your area 
  • Share the campaign flyer in your workplace and with colleagues
  • Show your support on social media #UKsocialwork and let us know the action you take


​2018 survey findings - summary

3,421 social workers contributed to the August 2018 survey, almost three times more than that completed the first Working Conditions and Wellbeing survey in 2017. 

In Scotland, 301 of you let us know your views. 

  • Compared to the UK average, working conditions were worse than 90%-95% of other employees in both public and private sector occupations,
  • Nearly half of all social workers are also dissatisfied in their jobs,
  • Two thirds have attended work while ill at least twice in the last year,
  • Social workers worked an average of 64 days per year more than they are contracted to (an average of 11 hours per week)
  • 60% looking to leave their current job within the next 15 months compared to 52% last year
  • Nearly 40% respondents looking to leave the profession entirely
  • The main stressors were high case and administrative loads, and lack of resources for service users.


Social workers need positive professional working conditions to provide the best services

  • Strong leadership to manage the demand on social workers
  • Management training for social work managers
  • Reduce stress and provide wellbeing support     
  • Professional development
  • Time for reflective supervision to work through complex cases
  • Manageable caseloads and a consistent approach to caseload allocation
  • Employ more social workers
  • Flexible and remote working through improved technology         
  • 80/20 quality time with individuals and families
  • Fair pay and careers

How you can help


  • Support our campaign on working conditions: happy staff make for best practice! Contact SASW for us to come out and assist.
  • Share your good practice and learning for great services.
  • Engage with SASW on work and caseload management approaches, developed in partnership.
  • Share evidence on how effective practice and preventative services are improving outcomes.
  • Professional development and wellbeing support: we have a number of seminars and workshops which focus on the unique role of the social worker in various settings- contact SASW to find out how we can help
  • Support your social work leaders, managers and teams
  • Let us support you in evidencing how you and your teams live the BASW Code of Ethics


  • Write to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeanne Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd and Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey 
  • Write to your local MSP and discuss the findings, or any issues you have with them
  • Share your experiences with the Scotland team, and we can take them forward to MSPs on your behalf at our future roundtable and at 1:1 meetings 

BASW/SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University Research into the working conditions of social workers was first launched in June 2017.