Social worker wins appeal against GSCC ruling

A social worker has successfully appealed against a General Social Care Council ruling that she must disclose details of her own children's involvement with social services to potential employers.

A social worker has successfully appealed against a General Social Care Council ruling that she must disclose details of her own children’s involvement with social services to potential employers.

Judges at the first-tier tribunal (care standards) found that the GSCC’s conditions imposed on the woman’s professional registration were unfair and not necessary to protect the public.

The conditions were issued in September 2009 after Suffolk Council wrote to the GSCC with details of the woman’s family history, which included a 12-month period in 1999 when three of her children were placed on the child protection register in Suffolk.

The GSCC told the woman she must show this letter to any prospective employer when applying for social work jobs.

The letter, dated September 2008, included details of her children being on the child protection register, and another assessment carried out in 2007-8 following a burglary at her home by her son’s friend. On this occasion, no action was taken as social workers concluded her youngest child was “very well cared for”.

The GSCC reasoned that there was concern about her ability to assess risk, especially in the behaviour of children and parents.

But at a hearing at the tribunal, the woman argued she had struggled to find work as a social worker as a result of the conditions.

Judges found the woman, who cannot be named, to be an “honest and forthright woman” who would voluntarily tell prospective employers about her past involvement with social services.

In addition, the tribunal “failed to see how the appellant’s service user experience necessarily would ‘impact on her ability to assess risk'”.

The documents in question did not outline the full picture to prospective employers, according to the tribunal, and were therefore “not suitable” to be used without further information.

Finally, the tribunal criticised the amount of time it took to investigate the concerns raised by Suffolk Council. “For nearly two years, the appellant has had uncertainty about her future career and difficulty in getting work,” the tribunal said.

It concluded: “We are not satisfied that the conditions are necessary for the protection of the public or in the public interest or that they are reasonable, fair and proportionate in all the circumstances.”

• The first-tier tribunal (care standards) has overturned the GSCC’s decision to impose a further interim suspension order on Eric Rickerby, an agency social worker formerly employed by Wakefield Council. The council had reported several concerns to the GSCC, including that he allegedly left a child alone with a perpetrator of sexual abuse during supervised contact. However, the tribunal noted that the matter was referred in March 2009 and limited progress had been made by the time of the hearing in January 2010. It concluded that an interim suspension order was not necessary for the protection of the public.

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