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Safe and effective practice

This guidance will help registered social workers decide whether to make a self-referral due to a change in circumstances, and provide information about how to do this.

Safe and effective practice

Last updated: 25 November 2019


About this guidance

This guidance is to:

  • help registered social workers decide whether to make a self-referral due to a change in circumstances
  • provide information about how to do this

A self-referral is when a social worker tells us about something that may affect their ability to practise safely and effectively. All registered social workers in England must notify us as soon as possible of any changes that may affect their ability to do so.


Professional standards

It’s a requirement of registration that you comply with our professional standards. These are the standards we expect all social workers to meet and uphold throughout their registration and are necessary for safe and effective practise. They set out what a social worker in England must know, understand and do throughout their career. 

You must comply with these standards to stay on our register and failure to do so may be taken into account in fitness to practise proceedings. 

Standard 6.6 of the professional standards requires you to notify us of anything that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively. This includes any criminal proceeding you are subject to in any country. You must also inform us of any regulatory findings that are made against you.

For more information about the professional standards see:

The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 22(7) and 21(2)(c)

 

Criminal proceedings

Convictions, cautions and investigations

You must declare any charges, convictions or cautions that have been issued to you in the UK or any other country. See the Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15(1) and 15(2) for more information. 

You must also tell us if you’re being investigated for a criminal offence in the UK or any other country. Our regulatory powers mean that all registered social workers in England must disclose these matters. You must declare:

  • any charges, convictions and cautions issued in the UK or any other country unless they are ‘protected’ 
  • all road traffic convictions or cautions unless they are ‘protected’
  • all offences for which you’ve been convicted in a military court or tribunal
  • any investigations for a criminal offence

You should provide as much information as possible about any convictions or cautions to allow us to make a decision whether they affect your safe and effective practise. If we need more information, we’ll contact you.

You must provide the following information:

  • Details of the offence.
  • The date you received the conviction or caution or when the investigation started.
  • The name and contact details of the court or authority, if known.
  • Any other information you believe will help to explain the circumstances that led to the conviction, caution or investigation.

Penalty notices

You must also declare any fixed penalty notices, penalty notices for disorder, or harassment notices issued to you in the UK or any other country, with the exception of:

  • any road traffic offences where you have paid a fixed penalty notice (for example, speeding offences or civil matters such as parking tickets
  • any fixed penalty notices, penalty notices for disorder, or harassment notices issued in Scotland (these are protected from disclosure by amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974)

Please provide the following information in relation to each of the above notices you have received:

  • Details of the offence.
  • The date you received the notice.
  • The name and contact details of the authority who issued you with the notice, if known.
  • Any other information that’ll help to explain the circumstances that led to the notice being issued.

Protected cautions and convictions

Some convictions and cautions are protected by law, meaning you do not need to declare them to us. If you do tell us about a protected offence, we will not take it into account when we assess your application for registration.

Protected cautions

A caution is protected,and you do not need to tell us about it if both of the following apply:

  • More than 6 years have passed since you received the caution (or more than 2 years have passed if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the caution)
  • It is not for a ‘listed offence’

Protected convictions

A conviction is protected, and you do not need to tell us about it if all of the following apply:

  • More than 11 years have passed since the date of conviction (or more than 5 years and 6 months have passed if you were under the age of 18 when convicted).
  • It’s not for a ‘listed offence’
  • You did not receive a custodial sentence.
  • You have not been convicted of any other offence at any time.


Listed offences

The offences we recognise as listed offences are specified in our legislation and include serious violent or sexual offences. They also include other offences that are relevant to the role of a social worker. 

You will not be eligible for registration if you’ve been convicted of a listed offence and will be automatically removed from the register. You must also tell us if you’ve committed an offence abroad that would be considered a listed offence in England. 

If you’re aware that you have committed an offence overseas that may be equivalent to an offence in the UK, you should seek independent expert or legal advice to check whether you need to tell us about it.

For more information about listed offences see:

 

What happens if I disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice?

If you disclose a conviction, caution or penalty notice, we’ll assess whether this is likely to impact your ability to practise safely and effectively. We’ll take into account the nature of the offence, when it occurred and whether you have committed any other offences. We’ll also take into account any details you provide about the circumstances surrounding the offence.

We’ll contact the police to verify any details you provide about your convictions, cautions or penalty notices to help us decide whether your fitness to practise will be affected.


Barred from working with vulnerable groups

You must also tell us about any changes to your circumstances that bar you from working with vulnerable groups. This includes if you are:

  • listed on the adults’ or children’s list under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
  • listed on the adults’ and or children’s list under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007
  • subject to a barring order under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006)
  • barred from working with vulnerable people in any other country

If any of these apply to you, you’ll need to provide us with the following details:

  • The date you were barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.
  • Name and contact details of the organisation that barred you from working with children or vulnerable adults.
  • Any other information that you believe will help us to understand the circumstances that led to the decision.

For more information see:

The Social Work England registration rules 2019, rule 15 (4) 


Health conditions

When you apply to join the register or renew your registration, you’ll need to tell us about any physical or mental health conditions that may impact your practise as a social worker. 

We use the term ‘health condition’ to mean an illness, injury, disability, or impairment. If your health conditions change at any point during your registration and might affect your safe and effective practise you should notify us immediately.

Why we ask about health conditions

We ask about health conditions because we need to know that the people on our register are able to fulfil their role as a social worker safely and effectively. Our focus is whether you have a health condition that could adversely or negatively affect your practise, not whether you have a health condition that you’re able to manage effectively.

Many people with health conditions are able to practise safely and effectively. You may receive support or treatment from a health care professional. Additionally, your employer has a responsibility to discuss what reasonable adjustments they can provide to support you at work.

Which conditions do I need to disclose?

You must tell us about a health condition if both of the following apply:

  • Your health condition affects, or could affect, your ability to perform your role as a social worker safely and effectively. This includes any episodic or occasional conditions that may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively if you experience a recurrence.
  • You do not have arrangements in place that manage the health condition and allow you to perform your role as a social worker safely and effectively.

If the above criteria apply to your health condition, we’ll need to know more about the effect your health condition may have on your ability to perform your role and what steps you’re taking towards managing the condition. You should include the following information in your application:

  • The nature and seriousness of your health condition, including whether it is ongoing or episodic (occasional)
  • How your condition may affect your ability to practise safely and effectively
  • What steps you’re taking to manage your health condition (for example medication or reduced hours) and how effective these are.
  • Whether you’ve made your employer aware of your condition
  • Any relevant dates of occurrences and treatment

What happens if I disclose a health condition?

If you declare a health condition to us, we’ll need to be sure that you have insight and understanding into your condition and its effects. We need to know that you’ve considered how certain aspects of your practise may be affected and that you’ve taken appropriate steps to make sure you do not put yourself or others at risk.

We’ll consider the information you’ve provided on a case by case basis. In some cases, we may need to speak with your doctor or other treating clinician, but we’ll always ask for your consent to do this. All information regarding your health will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be shared with those who need it to deal with your self-referral. 

For more information about health conditions see:


Findings by other bodies

If you’re registered with another regulatory body who finds your fitness to practise to be impaired, you must tell us straight away. This includes regulators outside the social work profession.

If a regulatory body finds your fitness to practise to be impaired, you must provide the following information:

  • The name and contact details of the regulatory body that found your fitness to practise to be impaired.
  • The date they made their decision.
  • The outcome of your fitness to practise case (for example, whether you were suspended or removed from the register).
  • Any further details about the case that’ll help to us understand the circumstances that led to the decision.


Employment proceedings

You must tell us if you’ve been involved in any disciplinary proceedings at work that could affect your fitness to practise. If you’re making a self-referral because you’ve been involved in any disciplinary proceedings at work, you should provide us with the following information:

  • The date the proceedings started.
  • What the proceedings are about.
  • The outcome of the proceedings (if known).
  • The name and contact details of the organisation taking proceedings.
  • Any supporting documents you want to include in the self-referral.


Anything else that may impair your fitness to practise

Our professional standards require social workers to declare to us anything that might affect their ability to do their job competently or could affect their fitness to practise. You need to tell us about anything you think may affect your fitness to practise even if it does not fit into one of the categories above.

Please provide us with as much information as possible to help us decide on next steps


How to tell us

At renewal, you’ll be asked whether anything has changed that will affect your ability to practise safely and effectively. However, you should not wait until renewal to tell us about something that may impair your fitness to practise.

You can submit your self-referral by emailing a completed self-referral form to [email protected] or by posting it to: Social Work England, Triage Team, 1 North Bank, Blonk Street, Sheffield, S3 8JY.


Honesty and integrity

It’s important to be honest when making a self-referral. If you give false or misleading information, we may remove you from the register. 

You must tell us as soon as possible if any of your details change. It’s your responsibility to make sure all the information we hold about you is up to date and accurate throughout your registration. Failure to inform us of any changes could lead to you being suspended or removed from the register.

For more information about honesty and integrity see:

Further information

For any further information or support with the self-referral process, please call us on 0808 196 2274 or email us on [email protected].

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