Sunday, 16 July 2017

Working conditions of children’s social workers in Britain

An independent report by Dr Jermaine Ravalier looks at the working conditions and wellbeing of social workers in the UK, of whom a large number work with children and young people.

Dr Ravalier is senior lecturer in psychology at Bath Spa University and co-leads the Psychological Research Group, specialising in researching working conditions and their effects.

The research found that:
  • Working conditions for social workers in Britain, irrespective of job role, are extremely poor, with deep budget cuts forcing social workers to take on more cases than ever
  • Heavy demands on individuals’ time result in increased levels of stress, intentions to leave, low job satisfaction and ‘presenteeism’ (working while sick resulting in lost productivity)
  • More than 90% of social workers are working an average of 10 hours of unpaid overtime every week
  • Over 50% of social workers are considering leaving the profession within the next 18 months due to the stress resulting from too many demands on their time

This research confirms much of what we knew already, but it is no less welcome for that. It turns the spotlight on the sad fact that children’s social workers are working in taxing and unfavourable conditions which result in high levels of turnover and vacancy.

People who undertake safety critical roles, such as social workers involved in child protection, need to have supportive working environments and reasonably sized workloads, so that they can concentrate fully on ensuring that those for whom they have responsibility are safe. If people are struggling with too much work or poor working conditions, it is not surprising that more mistakes are made or that quality is low.

Ask yourself the following question: would you fly with an airline that overworked its pilots, did nothing to reduce their high stress levels and allowed them to work while they were unfit through sickness? Why should abused and neglected children and young people be asked to accept anything less than the rest of us expect when our safety is in the hands of others?