SWU is the only UK trade union for, and run by, qualified and registered social workers.

SWU works with BASW to protect social work professionals speaking as social workers for social workers. Having a professional association and trade union together is important for the social work profession. We aim to be the best trade union for social workers.

Only a trade union can guarantee representation in hearings before an employer. We’re the fastest growing trade union in the UK with almost 15,000 members. Opting in to SWU means you’ll receive guaranteed protection at employer hearings and representation from SWU Trade Union officials. We work alongside BASW, which offers advice and representation at regulatory body hearings.

SWU is the only trade union to offer representation by a qualified social worker who understands the complexities of the profession. With officers working across the UK, we provide representation at internal hearings for disciplinary and grievance procedures, and employer investigations into practice and misconduct allegations.

SWU also recruits and trains workplace Union Contacts who promote membership and activism in workplaces, universities, and beyond.

Please note: You are entitled to telephone advice and telephone support from the first day of your membership. You will be entitled to representation after the three month qualifying period. Please note that to qualify for representation, the issue cannot have been a known pre-existing issue or active during this three month qualifying period.

Our mission

Through positive relationships with government and international bodies, SWU will strive to improve the terms and conditions of social workers and fight for better resources for the people who use these services.

SWU and those who represent it will:

  • Act with integrity and principles in line with the BASW Code of Ethics
  • Work together
  • Operate in an open, democratic and representative manner
  • Strive for excellence and not defend bad practice
  • Be transparent in all our union activities and funds
  • Support the principles of human rights and social justice worldwide

Opt in

SWU has an ‘arms-length’ relationship with BASW as an organisation member. As a member of BASW, you can opt in to SWU for £2.08 a month (£25 a year) - or just 83p a month (£10 a year) for unwaged and student members.

Training for members

SWU is a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), providing our members with access to the training provided by GFTU. GFTU is a group of 26 specialist unions with a combined membership of over 260,000 members.

See the GFTU Education Trust courses available to SWU members with the majority free.

Member benefits

Save on professional development courses

SWU members receive 50% off membership of Dr Neil Thompson’s online learning community Avenue Professional Development Programme (at just £5 per month instead of the normal £10) and a 50% off his e-learning courses, which means you can learn with Neil from as little as £4.99 per course.

10% discount on legal fees

SWU members receive 10% discount on solicitor fees with Morrish Solicitors, a leading legal firm. Find out more on Morrish Solicitor’s website.

Free financial health check

Lighthouse Financial Group offer SWU members a free, no-obligation, financial health check with a financial adviser. They can help with a range of financial advice, including how to build a nest-egg and boost your pension provisions. Quote SWU1 when booking an appointment.

Leaflets and SWU Information