The rest of the UK ought to follow Scotland in setting down enforceable guidance on the roles and tasks of social workers, according to the British Association of Social Workers.
The Scottish government published guidance for local authorities on the role of the registered social worker in statutory interventions on 5 March – the same day as the Department of Health published a joint statement outlining the roles and tasks of adult social workers in England.
Although Scotland’s document is intended to be used in employment tribunals and at the Scottish Social Services Council to determine whether individual social workers should remain on the register, the documents for England are purely descriptive.
Ruth Stark, manager for BASW Scotland and part of the practice governance group that produced the Scottish guidance, said this was “the next step” for the social work reform programme in England.
“I think it’s imperative that every country has guidelines for employers and staff about individual professional responsibility,” Stark said.
Northern Ireland published its definition of the role of social workers, People Work Not Just Paperwork, in 2008. Wales is taking a slightly different approach by considering how to develop a career pathway for social workers.
A DH spokesperson said there were no plans to put England’s document on a statutory footing.