The Code Of Eth Ics For Social Work - Basw.co.uk

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The Code of Ethics for Social WorkStatementof Principles

ContentsIntroduction – Scope and objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31. Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41.1 Ethics in social work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41.2 The international definition of social work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52. Values and ethical principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72.1 Human rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72.2 Social justice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82.3 Professional integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93. Ethical practice principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14Copies of this document are downloadable at:www.basw.co.uk/codeofethicsBritish Association of Social Workers (2014)The Code of Ethics for Social Work. Birmingham: BASWFirst published: January 2012 Updated: October 2014Typographically reset: 20182

Introduction – Scope and objectivesThe British Association of Social Workers is the professional association for social workers in theUnited Kingdom (UK). The Code of Ethics states the values and ethical principles on which theprofession is based. The Association has a duty to ensure as far as possible that its members dischargetheir ethical obligations and are afforded the professional rights necessary for the safeguarding andpromotion of the rights of people who use social work services. People who use social work servicesmay be individuals (children, young people or adults), families or other groups or communities.The Code is binding on all social workers who are BASWmembers in all roles, sectors and settings in the UK. Socialworkers have a responsibility to promote and work to theCode of Ethics in carrying out their obligations to peoplewho use social work services, to their employers, to oneanother, to colleagues in other disciplines and to society.The Association commends and promotes the Code ofEthics to all social workers, educators and employers ofsocial workers in the UK.BASW’s Code of Ethics first adopted in 1975, has beenrevised and updated on several occasions. This Code ofEthics replaces the 2002 version. It takes as its startingpoint the internationally agreed Definition of Social Work(International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) andInternational Association of Schools of Social Work(IASSW), (2000) and has also incorporated the internationalstatement, Ethics in Social Work – Statement of Principles(IFSW and IASSW, 2004) with some revisions. These keydocuments were reviewed and agreed in 2010 by IFSWand IASSW.Sections 1 and 2 of this document draw on thebackground, definition and statement of ethical principlesof the IFSW/IASSW (2004) document, with amendmentsincluding the addition of ‘professional integrity’ as a valuealongside human rights and social justice. Section 3comprises practice principles which indicate how thegeneral ethical principles outlined in Section 2 should beput into practice in a UK context.3

Background1.1Ethics in social workEthical awareness is fundamental to the professionalpractice of social workers. Their ability and commitmentto act ethically is an essential aspect of the quality of theservice offered to those who engage with social workers.Respect for human rights and a commitment topromoting social justice are at the core of social workpractice throughout the world.Social work grew out of humanitarian and democratic ideals, andits values are based on respect for the equality, worth, and dignityof all people. Since its beginnings over a century ago, social workpractice has focused on meeting human needs and developinghuman potential. Human rights and social justice serve as themotivation and justification for social work action. In solidarity withthose who are dis-advantaged, the profession strives to alleviatepoverty and to work with vulnerable and oppressed people in orderto promote social inclusion. Social work values are embodied in theprofession’s national and international codes of ethics. Workingdefinitions of ethics and values are given in the Appendix.4The Code comprises statements of values andethical principles relating to human rights, socialjustice and professional integrity, followed bypractice principles that indicate how the ethicalprinciples should be applied in practice.The practice principles are not intended to beexhaustive as some ethical challenges andproblems facing social workers in practice arecommon and others are specific to particularcountries and settings. The Code is not designed toprovide a detailed set of rules about how socialworkers should act in specific situations or practiceguidance. Rather, by outlining the general ethicalprinciples, the aim is to encourage social workersacross the UK to reflect on the challenges anddilemmas that face them and make ethicallyinformed decisions about how to act in eachparticular case in accordance with the values of theprofession.

Definition1.2Ethical problems often arisebecause social workers,for example:l Work with conflictinginterests and competingrightsl Have a role to support,protect and empowerpeople, as well as havingstatutory duties and otherobligations that may becoercive and restrict people’sfreedomsl Are constrained by theavailability of resources andinstitutional policies insociety.The international definition ofsocial work (2014)“Social work is a practice-based profession and anacademic discipline that promotes social change anddevelopment, social cohesion, and the empowerment andliberation of people. Principles of social justice, humanrights, collective responsibility and respect for diversitiesare central to social work. Underpinned by theories ofsocial work, social sciences, humanities and indigenousknowledge, social work engages people and structures toaddress life challenges and enhance al-definition-of-social-workSocial work in its various forms addresses the multiple, complextransactions between people and their environments. Its mission isto enable all people to develop their full potential, enrich their lives,and prevent dysfunction. Professional social work is focused onproblem solving and change. As such, social workers are changeagents in society and in the lives of the individuals, families andcommunities they serve. Social work is an interrelated system ofvalues, theory and practice.5

Theory:Practice:Social work bases its methodology on a systematic bodyof evidence informed knowledge derived from researchand practice evaluation, including local and indigenousknowledge specific to its context. It recognises thecomplexity of interactions between human beings andtheir environment, and the capacity of people both to beaffected by and to alter the multiple influences upon themincluding bio-psychosocial factors. The social workprofession draws on theories of human development andbehaviour and social systems to analyse complexsituations and to facilitate individual, organisational, socialand cultural changes.Social work practice addresses the barriers, inequities andinjustices that exist in society. It responds to crises andemergencies as well as to everyday personal and socialproblems. Social work utilises a variety of skills, techniques,and activities consistent with its holistic focus on personsand their environments. Social work interventions rangefrom primarily person-focused psychosocial processes toinvolvement in social policy, planning and development.These include counselling, clinical social work, groupwork, social pedagogical work, and family treatment andtherapy as well as efforts to help people obtain servicesand resources in the community. Interventions alsoinclude agency administration, community organisationand engaging in social and political action to impact socialpolicy and economic development. The holistic focus ofsocial work is universal, but the priorities of social workpractice will vary from country to country and from timeto time depending on cultural, historical, legal and socioeconomic conditions.It is understood that social work in the 21st century isdynamic and evolving, and therefore no definition shouldbe regarded as exhaustive.* The definition was revised in 2014.6

2. Values and ethical principles2.1Human rightsValueSocial work is based on respect for theinherent worth and dignity of all people asexpressed in the United Nations UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights (1948) andother related UN declarations on rights andthe conventions derived from thosedeclarations.Principles1Upholding and promoting human dignity andwell-beingSocial workers should respect, uphold and defendeach person’s physical, psychological, emotionaland spiritual integrity and well-being. They shouldwork towards promoting the best interests ofindividuals and groups in society and the avoidanceof harm.2Respecting the right to self-determinationSocial workers should respect, promote and supportpeople’s dignity and right to make their own choices anddecisions, irrespective of their values and life choices,provided this does not threaten the rights, safety andlegitimate interests of others.3Promoting the right to participationSocial workers should promote the full involvement andparticipation of people using their services in ways thatenable them to be empowered in all aspects ofdecisions and actions affecting their lives.4Treating each person as a wholeSocial workers should be concerned with the wholeperson, within the family, community, societal andnatural environments, and should seek to recognise allaspects of a person’s life.5Identifying and developing strengthsSocial workers should focus on the strengths of allindividuals, groups and communities and thus promotetheir empowerment.7

2.2 Social justiceValueSocial workers have a responsibility to promotesocial justice, in relation to society generally, andin relation to the people with whom they work.3Distributing resourcesSocial workers should ensure that resources at theirdisposal are distributed fairly, according to need.4Challenging unjust policies and practicesSocial workers have a duty to bring to the attentionof their employers, policy makers, politicians and thegeneral public situations where resources areinadequate or where distribution of resources,policies and practice are oppressive, unfair, harmfulor illegal.5Working in solidaritySocial workers, individually, collectively and withothers have a duty to challenge social conditions thatcontribute to social exclusion, stigmatisation orsubjugation, and work towards an inclusive society.Principles128Challenging discriminationSocial workers have a responsibility to challengediscrimination on the basis of characteristics suchas ability, age, culture, gender or sex, marital status,socio-economic status, political opinions, skin colour,racial or other physical characteristics, sexualorientation or spiritual beliefs.Recognising diversitySocial workers should recognise and respect thediversity of the societies in which they practise, takinginto account individual, family, group and communitydifferences.

2.3 Professional integrityValueSocial workers have a responsibility to respect anduphold the values and principles of the professionand act in a reliable, honest and trustworthymanner.3Maintaining professional boundariesSocial workers should establish appropriate boundariesin their relationships with service users and colleagues,and not abuse their position for personal benefit,financial gain or sexual exploitation.4Making considered professional judgementsSocial workers should make judgements based onbalanced and considered reasoning, maintainingawareness of the impact of their own values, prejudicesand conflicts of interest on their practice and on otherpeople.5Being professionally accountableSocial workers should be prepared to account for andjustify their judgements and actions to people who useservices, to employers and the general public.Principles12Upholding the values and reputation of theprofessionSocial workers should act at all times in accordancewith the values and principles of the profession andensure that their behaviour does not bring theprofession into disrepute.Being trustworthySocial workers should work in a way that is honest,reliable and open, clearly explaining their roles,interventions and decisions and not seeking todeceive or manipulate people who use their services,their colleagues or employers.9

3. Ethical practice principlesPrinciples1Developing professional relationshipsSocial workers should build and sustain professionalrelationships based on people’s right to controltheir own lives and make their own choices anddecisions. Social work relationships should bebased on people’s rights to respect, privacy,reliability and confidentiality. Social workers shouldcommunicate effectively and work in partnershipwith individuals, families, groups, communities andother agencies. They should value and respect thecontribution of colleagues from other disciplines.2Assessing and managing riskSocial workers should recognise that people usingsocial work services have the right to take risks andshould enable them to identify and managepotential and actual risk, while seeking to ensurethat their behaviour does not harm themselves orother people. Social workers should support peopleto reach informed decisions about their lives andpromote their autonomy and independence,provided this does not conflict with their safety orwith the rights of others. Social workers should onlytake actions which diminish peoples’ civil or legalrights if it is ethically, professionally and legallyjustifiable.Social workers have a r

British Association of Social Workers (2014) The Code of Ethics for Social Work. Birmingham: BASW First published: January 2012 Updated: October 2014 Typographically reset: 2018 . 3 The Code is binding on all social workers who are BASW members in all roles, sectors and settings in the UK. Social workers have a responsibility to promote and work to the Code of Ethics in carrying out their .

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