Skip to main content

What We Stand For: Better working conditions for social workers

Social workers deserve to work in supportive organisations where they can have voice and influence - and where leaders and managers understand what social workers need to fulfil their roles.

As the professional association for social work and social workers across the UK, BASW represents social workers and influences employers, policymakers, politicians and social work leaders to improve conditions for excellent practice and better services.

We work with the Social Workers Union (SWU) through research, campaigns, creating resources and promoting innovative ideas for improvement. 

We work together to provide professional and employment rights advice and representation for every member, to tackle discrimination in the workplace and uphold rights.

What conditions help effective social work?

Many factors influence the work experience of social workers.

BASW, SWU and Bath Spa University have published joint research identifying the following key elements:

  • Wellbeing and self-care information and options at work
  • Continuing professional development 
  • Effective professional supervision 
  • Enough quality, relational time for primary tasks of working with and supporting individuals, families and communities
  • Skilled management support  
  • Effective and responsive professional and organisational leadership
  • Sufficient social workers and other staff to meet demand
  • Manageable workloads
  • Improved technology and digital skills 
  • Fair pay and career opportunities
  • To feel respected and recognised for good work: no more ‘blame cultures’ 
  • To be free from bullying and harassment at work
  • To be protected from violence and aggression

Employees of all kinds should expect these fundamentals of good employment practice and rights to be upheld. 

As a regulated profession, social work needs work contexts that are tailored to our tasks and responsibilities, so we can fulfil our complex and vital roles and pursue our ethics and values.

Social work post-Covid

Public services across the UK have been through transformational changes and challenges during the pandemic. With major governmental reforms planned or under consultation across many parts of the UK, we may see more change in job roles and employment arrangements across statutory adults, children’s and mental health services as well as in the not for profit and private provider sectors.

BASW and SWU know how crucial this time is to ensure social workers’ wellbeing, as we come through this phase of the pandemic. Now more than ever, we must continue supporting new social workers into the workplace; enabling people to stay in the profession after such a testing time; and influencing workforce plans and social work leadership for the future.

Wherever you work, whatever type of employment contract you have, whatever policy reforms we need to address, we are here for you individually – through the Advice and Representation Service and Professional Support Service – and collectively, as the independent voice of social work and social workers.

Useful links and resources

Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions: Good Practice Toolkit

BASW post-lockdown ethical guidance for social workers

Update: Covid 19 Health and Safety Statement and Guidance (BASW/SWU)

BASW Professional Support Service

Webinar (watch again) - We're in this together: Resilience and wellbeing in social work

Webinar (watch again) - Talk to SWU: Workplace issues

Social Work Employment Services

Blog: SWU General Secretary John McGowan on how social workers can harness different resources to thrive in the workplace

Social Workers Union and Bath Spa University begin new research on reflective supervision best practices