Why is how social service workers behave outside of work important?

Issue 3 – Fitness to practise newsletter for social service workers and employers 

FtP workers and employers enewsIt is important that all social service workers uphold public trust and confidence in social services. We believe that certain behaviours, even if they take place outside the workplace, could question a worker’s suitability to be registered.

Registered workers agree to follow the SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers.  Code 5.8 says workers must not:

behave in a way, in work or outside work, which would call into question your suitability to work in social services.

What do we mean by ‘behaviour outside of work’?

There is no exact list of behaviours that we consider but we can give you some examples of the types of behaviour we investigate.

Example 1 

A behaviour we may be concerned about is a social service worker who has been charged with and/or convicted of a criminal offence.  This is because the public has the right to expect social service workers to uphold the law and not engage in offending behaviour.  Offending behaviour questions the reliability and trustworthiness of an individual and in some circumstances may indicate a loss of self-control or raise serious concerns regarding an individual’s honesty or behaviour towards others. This is not what we would expect of a social service worker.

Example 2

An investigation being carried out by the police or a social work department relating to child or adult protection concerns which has taken place outside of work is also a behaviour concern. This could be harm or neglect of an individual or being involved in an inappropriate relationship. We investigate this kind of behaviour as it questions the judgement and decision making of a social service worker.

Example 3

Inappropriate communication outside of work is also an area which we investigate. This includes breaches of confidentiality or inappropriate use of social media and electronic communication such as email and text messages. This behaviour could be exploitative, discriminatory or abusive and cause offence. This behaviour would question a worker’s reliability and may affect the trust and confidence of people who use services and the public.

Examples of cases about behaviour outside of work

Here are examples from past decisions that highlight some of the behaviours discussed here. SSSC officers made some of the decisions with the consent of the registrant and others were made after a Conduct Sub-committee hearing. All were published on our website.

We hope that these examples will help you understand what we mean by “behaviour outside of work” and why we would investigate.

Case 1: Residential child care worker who received a conviction for assault

Case 2: Practitioner in a day care of children service who received a conviction for benefit fraud and dishonest behaviour towards the SSSC

Case 3: Practitioner in a care home service for adults who received a conviction for driving under the influence and placed a child and the public at risk

Case 4: Residential child care worker with supervisory responsibilities, inappropriate email communication

Are you a registered worker?

Registered workers need to tell us about things that might affect their suitability to be registered.

You must tell us if you are being investigated or charged by the police and must declare all types of offences, including speeding convictions and fixed penalty notices.

Your employer also has a duty to tell us about any concerns they have about a worker, including serious matters for example dishonesty, violence or any case involving disadvantage, loss or harm to vulnerable people, as soon as they become aware of it.

Do you want to know more about fitness to practise?

We must make sure, as far as possible, that workers are fit to practise in social services. We must be confident of the good character, conduct and competence of the people on our Register. Find out about our fitness to practise role on our website.

Read our other fitness to practise newsletters

An introduction to fitness to practise for social service workers
An introduction to fitness to practise for employers
Issues around administration of medication
Treating people who use services with dignity and respect

Sign up to our fitness to practise newsletter

If you’d like to receive our fitness to practise newsletter for employers or workers email communications@sssc.uk.com

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