The British Association of Social Workers has asked the
conciliation service ACAS for guidance on local authorities who ban
it from representing its members.
BASW claims that five of the 211 departments responsible for
social services across the UK are not allowing them to represent
members in grievance and disciplinary hearings. It confirmed the
councils as Kent, Ealing, Harrow, Croydon and Hounslow.
BASW director Ian Johnston said: “We believe that the ACAS
guidelines on who is allowed to represent staff should be
interpreted to allow professional associations like us to represent
our members in disputes.
“We believe there is a right under the terms of the human rights
legislation for people to be represented by any properly qualified
body of their choice.
“The vast majority of authorities do recognise us and do allow
us to represent our members. But we have experienced difficulties
with a small number of employers on the interpretation of the
guidance on who can assist employees in disputes.”
Despite BASW recommending its local authority members join a
trade union for the purpose of negotiating terms and conditions of
service, only about half its members are also trade union
The problem was highlighted by the recent case of a hospital
care manager who was refused permission to have BASW representation
during her claim for stress against Kent Council. She said she had
not joined a trade union because she believed BASW could represent
her in grievance and disciplinary meetings.
But Natalie Yost, Kent social services spokesperson, said: “We
believe the ACAS code of practice is quite clear when it says that
representatives in grievances or disciplinary hearings must be
members of the recognised trade unions or a work place
“We do recognise the association as an organisation but it is
not a recognised trade union, a situation which would be easily
resolved if registered as such.”