The A&R Team has developed new guidance documents for members to use

We are pleased to announce that the BASW and SWU Advice and Representation (A&R) team has developed 46 new guidance sheets to support our social worker members across a wide range of employment law matters and on fitness to practice processes.

These documents have been created by our skilled A&R team to help you resolve a current issue and to manage the immediate situation. They have been designed to support you in understanding the processes involved and what to expect.

Please use your member login to view these guidance sheets on the ‘Advice and Representation’ page of the new BASW website:

  • Agency Social Workers Guidance
  • Allocation Criteria for the BASW/SWU Advice and Representation service
  • Appealing the Outcome of a Hearing Guidance
  • Bullying and Harassment Guidance 
  • Capability Process Guidance
  • Completing a Fitness To Practise (FTP) Statement 
  • Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Guidance 
  • Disciplinary & Suspension Guidance
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Information
  • Discrimination in the Workplace Guidance
  • Eligibility for Advice and Representation Guidance
  • Employment Contracts Guidance
  • Employment Tribunal FAQs
  • Flexible Working Requests Guidance
  • Fitness to Practise (FTP) Proceedings Guidance
  • Grievance Guidance
  • Ill Health Retirement Guidance
  • Insight and Remediation Guidance
  • Maternity & Paternity Guidance
  • Meetings with Your Employer and right to be accompanied
  • Member form – Discrimination
  • Member form – Whistleblowing
  • Menopause Guidance
  • Methods of Representation Criteria for BASW/SWU
  • Overpayments & Repayments Guidance
  • Pensions Guidance
  • Preparation for attendance at meetings guidance
  • Preparation for Hearings
  • Probation Process Guidance
  • Protest Participation and Consequences
  • Racism in the Workplace Guidance
  • Reasonable Adjustment Passport Template
  • Redundancy and Restructuring Guidance
  • Reference Guidance and how to challenge a reference
  • Reflective Statement Guidance
  • Regulatory Body Guidance
  • Settlement Agreement Guidance
  • Sickness Absence Process Guidance
  • Social Work England (SWE) Registration Guidance
  • Subject Access Request (SAR) Guidance
  • The Advice & Representation Service (A&R) – How we work for you
  • TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings) Guidance
  • Whistleblowing Guidance
  • Work Related Stress Guidance
  • Working Time Regulations Guidance

A&R Service eligibility changes – for those with membership that began less than 3 months ago (as of October 1st)

About the A&R Service

The BASW and SWU Advice and Representation (A&R) Service is a team of people qualified in social work who provide specialist employment and regulatory support. A&R provides advice and representation to eligible members on:

  • Workplace employment law matters – such as disciplinary, grievance, capability, and sickness absence procedures.
  • Fitness to practice processes with each of the 4 UK social work regulators (NISSC, SCW, SSSC, and SWE).

If you are also a member of the Social Workers Union (SWU) in addition to your BASW membership, you benefit from representation from a certified trade union. SWU Trade Union Officials in the A&R service work throughout the UK providing professional, swift, and practical representation at disciplinary and grievance procedures, and investigations into practice and misconduct allegations. If you are going through a formal employment process, as a SWU member, you have the right to be represented by an Official of a Trade Union of your choice.

What has changed?

We have made some positive changes to the eligibility criteria for the BASW and SWU Advice and Representation (A&R) Service from 1st October 2023.

Before October 1st you were entitled to representation (where required) after a three-month qualifying period and entitled to telephone advice and telephone support from the first day of your BASW membership. Please note that to qualify for representation, the issue you have cannot have been a known, pre-existing or active issue during the three-month qualifying period.

The new changes that came into effect on October 1st mean that:

  • If you opt-in to SWU at the same time as joining BASW, the waiting time to receive representation from a SWU Trade Union Official is now reduced from 3 months to one month of membership. 
  • BASW members become eligible for telephone advice after just one month of membership*.

SWU and BASW members will also have access to the new comprehensive set of guidance documents from day one of membership. These documents are accessible through the members section of the BASW website and aim to provide information to members, where advice and representation is not available.

*It is important to note that any known pre-existing issues or issues that arise in the first month of membership do not ever become eligible for either advice or representation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the relationship between BASW & SWU?

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU) work jointly to deliver the Advice and Representation (A&R) service. Whilst we are closely linked, BASW and SWU are separate entities and have separate membership rules. This means the eligibility criteria is unique for each and therefore if you joined SWU at a later date then we recommend reviewing this FAQ section.

The BASW and SWU A&R team provide specialist professional and regulatory help to our members. We believe that by working together, SWU and BASW offer the best protection and advice for social workers provided by officers qualified in social work.

What happens if I am a member of BASW and decide to join SWU later on?

It is important to note that if you are a member of BASW but not SWU, whilst you can be represented as a BASW member, some employers will not let BASW represent in their organisation as they are not a trade union.

They are legally allowed to do this; however, if you are also opted-in to SWU, the trade union, then you can gain support from a SWU Trade Union Official.

Section 10 of the Employment Rights Act 1999 creates a statutory right for a worker to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union official of their choice during grievance and disciplinary procedures. Therefore, the employer cannot deny access to a SWU Trade Union Official for grievance and disciplinary proceedings.

If you have joined BASW, but not SWU, you become eligible for telephone advice and representation after one month of membership and can receive BASW representation.

If, however, you were to decide to join SWU at a later date you will have to wait for a month from the date of you joining SWU until you could receive trade union representation.

You must be opted in to SWU to receive trade union representation. This is different to BASW representation because your employer cannot refuse the attendance of a Trade Union official at disciplinary or grievances procedures.

See details of this above in “What is the relationship between BASW and SWU?”

Exception: If you were a member of BASW prior to September 2017 but have recently joined SWU, the additional one-month time period does not apply.

Why is this change coming into effect?

It is important to note that eligibility criteria exist in most other unions, the reason is one of fairness to all members, many of whom may have been paying membership fees for some years and have not required individual advice or representation.

Being a member of a union or a professional body is much more than individual representation and brings a range of other benefits. The consistent and fair application of eligibility criteria is vital to ensure that longer serving members, who have joined for collective or other reasons and not just when a problem has come up, are not disadvantaged.

What is a pre-existing issue?

A pre-existing issue is defined as a matter that was known about, or in process at the time of joining the organisation.  If the known issue subsequently results in a formal process, such as capability, grievance or disciplinary, that formal process is considered to have arisen from the known issue and remains ineligible for representation.

What if I am a BASW member but belong to another union?

BASW members can still access the telephone advice service and representation after one-month of membership*. You have the right to belong to more than one union and to belong to a union you choose.

* It is important to note that any known pre-existing issues or issues that arise in the first month of membership do not ever become eligible for either advice or representation.

What happens if I joined BASW prior to 1 October 2023 and already have a case open under the old eligibility?

The new eligibility rule will apply to all members from 1st October, regardless of their join date. Therefore, if a member already has a case open on the 1st October the new rules will be applied.

If a member does not meet the new eligibility criteria but has an existing case open prior to the 1st October, we will continue to provide telephone advice.

If you are an eligible SWU member and require further information or guidance, please contact us through the Advice and Representation team contact form and a member of our team will be in touch (log-in required: or give us a call on 0121 622 8413.