Social worker suspended for pulling sickie so she could start new job

Fitness to practise panel concludes social worker's actions amounted to misconduct and dishonesty

Illustration depicting a phone with a sick day concept.
Picture: Creative Soul/Fotolia

A social worker who pulled a sickie from work so that she could start a new job has been suspended on the grounds of misconduct and dishonesty.

The youth justice social worker sent a text message to her line manager stating that she was ill and could not attend work on Monday 15 December 2014. The same day she attended an induction to take up a new agency post at another local authority.

The social worker’s team manager found out she was at the induction after a chance phone call with the boss at her new service.

The social worker’s employer complained to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Her team manager said she had “abandoned” her post and failed to complete the required three month notice period after she resigned from her job on 31 October.

Some service users were unaware about the social worker’s impending departure and her record keeping was incomplete when she left, creating the possibility that information could have been lost and service users put at risk, the manager added.

The fitness to practise panel heard the social worker’s employer believed she would finish work in late January after completing her notice period. However, the social worker had told the new local authority she could start on 15 December.

The Friday evening before phoning in sick she had cleared her desk and left without saying a word to her colleagues.

Defending her actions, the social worker said she was “truly poorly” and was ill when she turned up to the induction at the new service. She also claimed she believed the 15 December was her final day at work.

The panel dismissed both assertions and concluded the social worker knew she was not free to take up the new job as she had not worked her contractual notice period. It found she had lied to her line manager, as the reason for her non-attendance at work was not illness but instead because she had obtained alternative employment.

The panel found the social worker’s actions breached standards of conduct and standards of proficiency for social workers, including the requirement to operate within the legal and ethical boundaries of the profession.

It concluded the social worker’s actions amounted to misconduct and her fitness to practise was impaired. The panel found a suspension of twelve months was an appropriate sanction to provide protection to the public, retain confidence in the social work profession and to allow the social worker an opportunity to remedy her shortcomings.


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15 Responses to Social worker suspended for pulling sickie so she could start new job

  1. Philip Risch July 25, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    That’s a bit bloody harsh! ‘Standards of conduct’….how they must have loved taking the moral high ground.

  2. Andy Foster July 26, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    Tidy desk, tidy mind….!

  3. Karanuts July 26, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Totally disproportionate response. Removing someone’s livelihood so easily is gutless.

  4. elliea5 July 26, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    Not harsh at all – its fraud – she will have accepted pay from 2 employers – and what does it say about her honesty and integrity

  5. Andrea July 26, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Youth JUSTICE worker lies – seriously?!
    TEXTING a manager your absence – really??

  6. Lisa July 26, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

    What she did was wrong but 12 months suspension is a bit harsh I think.

  7. Josephine July 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    I think this sort of thing goes on all the time! We’ve all come across colleagues who don’t pull their weight, leave early, arrive late, gets their hair done, go shopping…. ! I think she was just unlucky and got caught! That’s the risk you take when you are dishonest ! And let’s face it, it is dishonest !!! Harsh yes a bit ! But a message out to all those who think it won’t happen to them !

  8. SW 111 July 26, 2016 at 10:27 pm #


    • Cristina July 27, 2016 at 11:43 am #

      I agree, although I know how hard social workers are working, staying overtime that they will never recover, it seams to me that there is no praise for achievements and good work. Sadly the work environment seams to be lead by fear, bullying and whoever shouts louder.
      There are so many cases of being deregistered for seemingly human mistakes. I just wonder what was done at management level and how come they felt the need to report straight to HCPC. I am passionate about my job but I feel that I loose hope every day. I thrive in a encouraging environment but I am totally put off in a fear and bullying driven environment and I am convinced that many of us do.

  9. Andrea July 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye and that there were other concerns about her professionalism and capabilities and the dishonesty and fraud where the issues

    • Stuart July 31, 2016 at 10:34 pm #

      For sure we only know part of this story but it seems a very common one – managers & employers drive staff to distraction & destruction then lace up their hcpc boots before kicking the cat. Pity we can’t report them to hcpc so the rest of us know to stay away.

  10. Cat July 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    What would have happened to a doctor or consultant or manager of they’d have been found guilty of such an offence? 12 months suspension? I don’t think so.

  11. Claire July 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    I have seen this happen before HCPCC was about. As the LA that had this person for a day before they went back to the other job, it was a nightmare. You do the full induction allocate cases, dish out stationary, spend money setting them up on computer systems and they disappear the next day, only to find out later that they took a day off sick from their permanent post to try a day with us as locum. Should have sent them a bill for the time and money wasted! Obviously do not know the full circumstances but agree there should be some repercussions!

  12. I suspect poor relationship between manager and the social worker. The social worker in turn should have approached the manager and said I need to go for an interview. This has to be promoted. There has to be a reason why the social worker could not approach the manager.

  13. Mandy July 29, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    Agree, its fraud and deception.

    Even if there were relationship issues between the individual and her manager that doesn’t excuse it and certainly doesn’t excuse leaving a job without informing your service users.

    I do think 12 months suspension is a bit harsh though I’m not sure how I would decide on an alternative.