SWU General Secretary and new BASW Chair reinforce their commitments to campaigning on Working Conditions

John McGowan and Julia Ross speak on the importance of good employment practices and Trade Union support

John McGowan, SWU General Secretary highlighted that “It was extremely useful to have met up with the new BASW Chair, Julia Ross and to reinforce the importance for both organisations on our key joint campaigning area – ‘working conditions’.  I am pleased that the co-operation agreement between the organisations reinforces our commitment to drive forward the professional agenda together and also provide trade union support to BASW members who sign up to SWU.”

Julia Ross, BASW Chair commented, “I was delighted to meet John and hear more about SWU and its incredible journey over the past few years. I have always been a strong advocate and enjoyed long standing membership of trades unions over the years. I regard social work as being fortunate indeed to have our own specialist Trade Union in SWU. I am also pleased to announce that I shall be joining SWU myself.”

The importance of good Working Conditions

Social workers deserve to work in supportive organisations where they can have voice and influence – and where leaders and managers understand what social workers need to fulfil their roles.

As the professional association for social work and the only specialist union for social workers across the UK, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU) represent social workers and influences employers, policymakers, politicians, and social work leaders to improve conditions for excellent practice and better services.

BASW and SWU work together through our co-operation agreement with a joint focus on research, campaigns, creating resources, and promoting innovative ideas for improvement. 

We work together to provide professional and employment rights advice and representation for every member in order to tackle discrimination in the workplace and uphold rights.

What conditions help effective social work?

Many factors influence the work experience of social workers. BASW, SWU, and Bath Spa University began their joint research into this topic in 2017, and it has now grown into the largest investigation of social worker working conditions and wellbeing ever conducted to date.

Our published research has identified the following key elements which contribute to effective social work:

  • Wellbeing and self-care information and options at work
  • Continuing professional development 
  • Effective professional supervision 
  • Enough quality, relational time for primary tasks of working with and supporting individuals, families, and communities
  • Skilled management support  
  • Effective and responsive professional and organisational leadership
  • Sufficient social workers and other staff to meet demand
  • Manageable workloads
  • Improved technology and digital skills 
  • Fair pay and career opportunities
  • To feel respected and recognised for good work: no more ‘blame cultures’ 
  • To be free from bullying and harassment at work
  • To be protected from violence and aggression

Employees of all kinds should expect these fundamentals of good employment practice and rights to be upheld. Many of these elements of effective social work hinge on the availability of support in the workplace – from effective supervision to management support, and ensuring social workers have enough time to do their tasks and for continuing professional development.

BASW, SWU, and Bath Spa University created the Social Worker Wellbeing and Working Conditions: Good Practice Toolkit (2020) to be a tool that social workers in practice, social work supervisors, workforce development leads, managers, and leaders alike can use to accelerate action across all parts of the workplace.

Members of BASW can join SWU at a very affordable price and through this enjoy the full range of professional support, practice development, advice, and representation services from the combination of our complementary organisations. Both BASW and SWU have social work values at their heart.