British Association of Social Workers chief executive Hilton Dawson has urged employers to give the professional body greater status in workplaces to help tackle the poor working conditions facing many practitioners.
Speaking to the West Midlands Directors of Children’s Services Conference, Dawson outlined a “five-point engagement plan” between employers and BASW, and said he would be writing to every major social work employer in the country this month to ask them to sign up to it.
He has urged employers to:-
- Recognise BASW’s advice and representation service so it can represent members in individual cases. Dawson said a “minority” of local authorities do not recognise BASW.
- Encourage social workers to join BASW, to demonstrate “commitment to the professional development of your social workers”.
- Hold regular meetings with BASW members to learn what’s happening on the frontline.
- Work with BASW on campaigns.
- Allow staff paid time off to work on BASW committees “to the advantage of their professional development and your standing as an employer”.
The plan was drawn up following Dawson’s tour of 32 local authorities across the UK, during which he met about 800 social workers. He warned delegates that many reported concerns over high workloads and poor management support.
At five councils, Dawson said he was also compelled to alert chief executives over dangerous child protection practices.
He said: “A very, very strong message from frontline social workers is that they don’t get to meet directors and directors don’t get to hear the really important messages about their day-to-day work.
“It’s important for directors to meet with all their frontline staff, but I am particularly keen that they meet with BASW members.”
Dawson said: “If people are worried about an independent organisation representing their social workers I think they need to talk to the vast majority of local authorities that do recognise BASW who would tell them that we intervene very positively and fairly and seek informal and appropriate solutions to problems. We’re not anything to fear at all.”