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BASW/IFSW Policy on Effective and Ethical Working Environments for Social Work: The responsibilities of employers of social workers

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) approved a policy statement at the July 2012 General Meeting in Stockholm after a period of consultation. BASW endorsed the policy in October 2012 on the role of employers in creating and supporting an appropriate environment for the effective and ethical practice of social work.

The policy makes it clear that there are several factors which help to create the working environment but that employers have a significant responsibility. BASW strongly recommends that all employers of social workers, including independent social workers, and commissioners of social work services adopt this policy. Social workers should bring this policy to the attention of their employers so that they can be supported to work effectively and accordance with the BASW Code of Ethics (BASW 2012) and the IFSW Statement of Ethical Principles (IFSW 2004). The document has been adapted to reflect the UK context but the policy content is the same as the IFSW document.

This policy statement sets out a framework for arrangements between employers, senior managers and social workers to create and support effective and ethical working environments for social work practice. The policy recognises that social workers usually exercise their responsibilities in practice with individuals, groups and communities within their roles as agency or organisational representatives (IFSW 1996). They are frequently working alongside colleagues from other professions, such as nurses and teachers. Social work does not exist in a vacuum.