The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has warned unions against setting an unrealistic deadline for employers to complete a workload “health check” of social work teams.
In recent guidance issued to branch officials, Unison challenged all employers to complete the health check, as recommended by the Social Work Task Force, by May 2010.
But ADCS president Kim Bromley-Derry, representing all 152 directors of children’s services in England, said: “We are concerned that if unrealistic deadlines are set, the workload health check will be a missed opportunity for frontline staff and management to be able to discuss and assess the strengths and areas for improvement together in the spirit of transparency.
“As the taskforce report says, these conversations must be frank, honest and open and not be rushed.”
The taskforce recommended every employer in England conduct an immediate health check using an initial framework covering vacancies, caseloads and IT equipment, but did not set a deadline.
Unison suggested that its branch officials push employers to complete the checks within three months, and said the officials should encourage social workers to report their employers to the union if they fail to implement the taskforce’s recommendations.
But Bromley-Derry warned against taking an “adversarial tone rather than one of partnership”.
Although he did not put forward an alternative target date, he confirmed that Moira Gibb, who chairs the board overseeing implementation of the taskforce’s recommendations, is expected to write to employers soon to explain the purpose of the health check, and to encourage its use locally in 2010-11.