What SWU Do

Social Workers Union Conference & AGM 2018. 21 September 2018.

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is a registered trade union and organisational member of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). Find out how we protect social work professionals.

SWU is the only UK trade union for all social workers and is run by qualified and registered social workers.

SWU works alongside BASW to protect social work professionals speaking as social workers for social workers. Having a professional association and trade union together is important for the social work profession. We aim to be the best trade union for social workers.

Only a trade union can guarantee representation in hearings before an employer. We’re the fastest growing trade union in the UK with over 15,000 members. Becoming a member of SWU means you’ll receive guaranteed protection at employer hearings and representation from SWU Trade Union officials.

SWU is the only trade union to offer representation by a qualified social worker who understands the complexities of the profession. With officers working across the UK, we provide representation at internal hearings for disciplinary and grievance procedures, and employer investigations into practice and misconduct allegations.

SWU also recruits and trains workplace Union Contacts who promote membership and activism in workplaces, universities, and beyond.

Please note: You are entitled to telephone advice and telephone support from the first day of your membership. You will be entitled to representation after a three-month qualifying period. Please note that to qualify for representation, the issue cannot have been a known pre-existing issue or active during this three-month qualifying period.

Further clarification on the three-month qualifying period can be found here.

Our mission


Through positive relationships with government and international bodies, SWU strives to improve the terms and conditions of social workers and fights for better resources for the people who use these services

SWU and those who represent it will:

  • Act with integrity and principles in line with the BASW Code of Ethics
  • Work together
  • Operate in an open, democratic and representative manner
  • Strive for excellence and not defend bad practice
  • Be transparent in all our union activities and funds
  • Support the principles of human rights and social justice worldwide

Join SWU


SWU has an ‘arms-length’ relationship with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) as an organisation member. As a member of BASW, you can opt in to SWU for £2.08 a month (£25 a year) – or just 83p a month (£10 a year) for unwaged and student members.

You can read here about all the benefits of SWU/BASW membership.

To join SWU please go to the British Association of Social Workers membership sign-up web page.

Training for members


SWU is a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) which provides our members with access to the training provided by GFTU. The GFTU is a group of 28 specialist unions with a combined membership of over 300,000 members.

Member benefits


Save on professional development courses


SWU members receive a range of discounts and access to Dr Neil Thompson’s online learning community Avenue Professional Development Programme.

10% discount on legal fees


SWU members receive 10% discount on solicitor fees with Morrish Solicitors, a leading legal firm. Find out more on the Morrish Solicitors website.

Free financial health check


Lighthouse Financial Group offers SWU members a free, no-obligation financial health check with a financial adviser. They can help with a range of financial advice, including how to build a nest-egg and boost your pension provisions. Quote SWU1 when booking an appointment.

For more information regarding member benefits please click here.

Leaflets and SWU Information