England’s largest social workers’ union has claimed victory in the campaign for tougher regulation over managers following Lord Laming’s recommendation to strengthen the employers’ code of practice.
Unison believes enforcing the code will raise the morale and protection of the workforce through closer monitoring of the requirements to provide high-quality support and manageable caseloads.
In his government-commissioned report on safeguarding, published yesterday, Laming recommended that the General Social Care Council review its two codes of practice – one for social care workers, the other for employers.
All recommendations accepted
He said the latter should then be made statutory, a status already held by the practitioners’ code. The government has accepted all of Laming’s recommendations.
Unison suggested upgrading the code in its official submission to Laming’s progress report on child protection in England.
National officer for social care Helga Pile said: “We’re really pleased. This is something we have been calling for a number of years.”
Pile, whose union represents 40,000 social workers in the UK, explained that practitioners felt they faced an unfair level of scrutiny compared to managers under the current system of regulation. Although frontline workers have faced sanctions if they breach the code of practice since 2006, employers have not been held to account in the same way.
“The code for employers had little teeth and very little impact because there was no enforcement. That meant a lot of employers paid it very little attention because there was no pressure to do so,” she said.
Pile pledged to contribute to the GSCC’s review of the codes, in order to ensure it provided a more specific set of requirements for employers that would be enforceable.
Mike Wardle, chief executive of the GSCC, which has consistently lobbied for the change over the last 12 months, welcomed the opportunity to hold employers to account.
“We should now be able to judge the actions of employers against a defined document that will help everybody understand what’s expected of them.”
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