The number of social workers taking long-term sick leave has increased by nearly a quarter, a BBC investigation has found.
A Freedom of Information request responded to by 135 councils across the United Kingdom said the number of social workers taking at least a month off through sickness rose from 1,537 in 2012-13 to 1,911 in 2016-17.
A recent research study carried out by Bath Spa University, and backed by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers’ Union, found social workers had been working through illness to keep up with caseloads.
It also found social workers had been adding an average of 10 extra hours a week to their workload, which equated to £600 million unpaid overtime per year if applied to the entire United Kingdom workforce.
The research said social workers had been put under “significant strain” by organisational factors, such as poor working conditions.
BASW launched a ‘Respect for Social Work’ campaign last year in a bid to improve working conditions in the profession.