The Disability Rights Commission will investigate whether regulations governing entry into social work prevent disabled people from joining the profession, it announced today.
The 12-month investigation, which will also cover nursing and teaching, has been sparked by evidence that fitness to practice standards may be discriminating against disabled people.
The DRC said disabled people were under-represented in all three professions and in the public sector as a whole, and that disabled people who were employed in these roles were often pigeon-holed into particular areas of work.
The General Social Care Council, the Care Council for Wales and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council all require applications for registration to declare health conditions that may affect their practice, though the Scottish Social Services Council does not.
Last October, an approved social worker successfully appealed against the GSCC after it imposed conditions on his registration after he disclosed he had bipolar affective disorder.
At the time, the GSCC admitted that its health check was problematic and said it would advise the government that it was unworkable if it proved discriminatory.