Guidance and information for self-employed social workers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemnic.

Practicing social work during the Coronavirus pandemic presents a number of challenges to the profession. The self-employed workforce are faced with additional pressures and risks in a time when the context and information is changing daily. 

This page is live where we hope to keep individuals informed of current developments. Please bookmark and return regularly. 

A message for independent BASW members by Gerry Nosowska - BASW Chair and Independent social worker

Guidance and information for self-employed social workers

BASW's commitment to the safety and effective practice of social workers 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) BASW updates homepage

Updates on Covid 19 practice and health and safety guidance for social work - Professional practice guidance and resources developed by BASW

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Insurance information for Independents

The recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances introducing new challenges and risks for independent social workers. This has implications on insurance cover and practice. 

Find out more (log-in required)

Covid-19 Vaccinations

Social work colleagues are now beginning to successfully access the Covid-19 vaccination programme through their employers. Like the majority of colleagues in employment, self-employed social workers will need to organise their own vaccination appointment. 

Whilst some self-employed and locum social workers have also successfully booked and/or received a vaccination, many are reporting challenges in accessing the vaccine despite their contracted services still requiring in person meetings.

The distribution of the vaccine is predominantly managed by various local health services and this is creating inconsistent experiences. As a fast-moving situation including the expanding vaccination hub services, BASW Independents are monitoring closely to support members who require the vaccine as part of the services they offer.

*NEW* Please note that it is now possible to book your second vaccine appointment for 8 weeks following your first appointment. 

Members have confirmed with BASW that they have successfully accessed the Covid-19 vaccination programme:


The Government have confirmed that the National Booking System will be opened to eligible social care workers. Letters have been sent to all BASW Independents in England embedded in an email. How to access the vaccine:

  1. Ensure you are registered with a GP in England
  2. Visit the National Booking System here
  3. Complete the booking process
  4. Print your email from BASW Independents and bring to your vaccine appointment
  5. Bring confirmation of your Social Work England registration to your vaccine appointment


  • Local health boards in Wales are calling for individuals who may have been missed and eligible for the vaccine to get in touch with them. Click here for more information and contact details of your local health board. 
  • Through their GP by confirming their frontline social care worker status. This is has been the most effective method for self-employed social workers. Should your GP require further evidence of your status, BASW encourages you to share details of your social work registration and you are welcome to request a letter from BASW here verifying your ISW membership (members only service).

Northern Ireland

  • A list for special mention has been curated.  BASW wrote to Independents in Northern Ireland on 28 January. If you were missed off this correspondence and/ or would like to know more, please contact us here


  • On 28 January, the Scottish Government confirmed the means to ensure that social workers (amongst other professionals) working in the independent sector or as self-employed independents can access the COVID-19 vaccine. The key eligibility criteria  for this pathway to vaccination is that you provide care closely and regularly to, or come into close contact with, those who are clinically very vulnerable to COVID. Find out more here.

To help monitor the situation and update our advice to the wider membership in this ever-changing situation, we are welcoming self-employed social workers and locums to get in touch with their experiences in both successfully and unsuccessfully accessing the vaccine.

Share your experience with the Covid-19 vaccination programme 

Read Covid-19 and Vaccination: a BASW position statement

Essential worker coronavirus (COVID-19) test

Essential workers are encouraged to apply for a test within the first three days from when symptoms begin. 

Find out more & request a test

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

This scheme is now closed. 

Government developments & schemes to support small businesses 

  • VAT deferral - deadline to apply to this scheme is 21 June 2021
  • The most recent IR35 reform that was scheduled to come into force next month has been postponed until April 2021. Whilst this legislation impacts the private sector, organisations were reviewing contractual arrangements impacting independent social workers. We anticipate this delay will provide further campaigning opportunities for the private sector to challenge this reform. 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) 

For those who employ others and/or pay yourself a PAYE salary from your Limited Company – this scheme provides the opportunity for 80% of your businesses salaries to be covered (up to £2500/ month). BASW advises consulting with your accountant to clarify whether you are eligible.

  • Find out more - Eligibility and claims change from May 
  • Payments for May are open 
  • Businessess are responsible for National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed employees. 
  • 80% of wages (maximum of £2500) will be covered by the governement. 
  • Staff may be on full or part-time furlough
  • Monthly deadlines - claims must be submitted within 14 calendar days following the month they relate to
  • Correcting claims:
    • If you claimed too much, notify HMRC as soon as possible. Notifcation and repayment must be completed either 90 days after CJRS payment or from the time of when circumstances change. 
  • Employees will be able to view CJRS payments requested on their behalf through their Personal Tax Account from February. 

HMRC continue to offer a series of webinars to discuss the Job Retention Scheme and will be covering:

  • furloughed workers
  • who can apply for the scheme
  • following the rules of the scheme
  • how much may be claimed
  • how to claim and what you’ll need to claim.

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing webinars

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme from 26 May 

A repayment for those who pay themselves and/or staff through a PAYE payroll scheme that was in place prior to 28 February 2020. Payment is applicable to employees who either:

  • have coronavirus
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home
  • are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Find out more

New Style Employment and Support Allowance

Should you have a disability of health condition that is having an impact on your self-employed work, you may be eligible for the New Style Employement and Support Allowance

Find out more 

Government support across the UK 

Guidance on running a social work business

Self-employed social workers will ultimately know their business best and responding to the current climate to mitigate risk and ensure personal and business resilience will be all the more challenging.  BASW suggests members to consider the following:

  • Continuity planning including contingencies: financial and fulfilling contractual obligations
  • Communication with clients. This includes negotiating adapted service provision and delivery timescales
  • Embracing digital working
  • Review your business model - exploring opportunities to evolve your skills and services to meet emerging demands

Sharing experiences and advice for Independents

Join the discussion with self-employed colleagues from across the UK to learn how their managing their businesses during these exceptional circumstances:

Return to Practice

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, some independent social workers who are not currently in roles within local authority practice may explore a return to practice.

BASW has published information for those considering this on a permanent or temporary basis. Find out more

For further advice, feedback and concerns, please contact BASW Independents.