The Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has found that a social worker committed serious misconduct by failing to maintain professional boundaries with her client.

The social worker formed a personal relationship with the brother of her client, allowed the client to use her personal phone number as his contact for probation services, and visited the client after hours at his home, and in prison.

It was also alleged that the social worker had failed to engage in regular professional supervision as required in the social work profession, but this wasn’t deemed to meet the standard of professional misconduct as the Tribunal was not satisfied that the social worker had failed in this duty.

The Tribunal had to decide whether the conduct of the social worker constituted that of professional misconduct.

Professional misconduct is conduct that amounts to a serious breach of the expected conduct of social workers as prescribed in legislation that brings, or is likely to bring, discredit to the social work profession.

It was decided that the social worker had failed to maintain the professional standards required of a social worker by crossing professional boundaries, and that her behaviour therefore met the standard of professional misconduct.

The Tribunal has yet to decide what penalties to impose on the social worker for her breaches.

If there is confusion around what is expected of a professional in the workplace, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley & Matthew Binnie

Litigation Team