Code of Ethics

  1. Mission Statement
    The purpose of the South African Occupational Social Workers' Association is to promote the highest ethical practice by its members by:
    • creating a working document to be reviewed and/or revised when considered necessary.
    • establishing a process whereby complaints from members of the Association, employing organisations, members of other professional disciplines and the public of alleged unethical behaviour can be channeled to the South African Council for Social Services Professions.
    • provide support and ongoing education for members who are frequently confronted with ethical dilemmas in a variety of work environments:
  2. Preamble
    The ethical behaviour and conduct of a SAOSWA member is concerned with the well-being of individuals served and this Code extends to activities and relationships with employers, colleagues, unions, professionals from other disciplines, the local community and society as a whole.

    The SAOSWA Executive Committee and Membership hold each other, as well as each individual member, responsible for conducting their professional and personal activities within the spirit of this Code. The Code, therefore, serves as a set of rules and standards by which SAOSWA professionals shall conduct their professional behaviour.

    Notwithstanding the aforementioned guidelines for professional conduct in a variety of workplace settings, it is acknowledged that members are frequently faced with ethical dilemmas. The Association shall provide a forum whereby such dilemmas can be discussed and consultation provided for social workers particularly those who are new to this specialised field.

    By acceptance of their annual SAOSW A membership, members agree to abide by the Association's Code of Ethics.

    This document does not supercede or replace the Code of Conduct as detailed in the Social Service Professions Act, 1978.
  3. Public Responsibility
    SAOSWA members are encouraged to maintain the highest standards in their profession and to promote occupational social work in the public and private sectors.

    They shall conduct themselves in their professional activities in accordance with the Code of Ethics for all South African social workers.

    Members shall be aware of their unique position which enables them to inform and educate the private and business sector in the ethics of their profession and how this can contribute to building humane and worker friendly work environments.

    Research shall be conducted in accordance with stringent ethical standards and as detailed under client protection and in the Standards document.
  4. Confidentiality
    Members shall regard all client related information as confidential and release of information will only be done in compliance with a court order, a subpoena or with the written permission and consent of the client. Employing organisations should be informed of this requirement at the time of appointing the occupational social worker or immediately upon he/she becoming a member of the Association.

    Members shall inform clients fully about their rights regarding the scope and limitations of confidential communication.

    Members shall not convey personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional work except that when working in a team, or with professional supervision, such disclosure might be in the client's own interests. Members must make clear to clients the extent to which personal information may be shared between colleagues.

    In exceptional circumstances where there is sufficient evidence to raise serious concern about the physical well-being and safety of the client, or about others who may be threatened by the client (and after consulting with a senior colleague or professional supervisor), members shall take such steps as are judged necessary to inform appropriate third parties without prior consent. Such disclosures may, in certain instances, be required by law, e.g. physical child abuse.

    "Client" shall include individual employees or members of their families, as well as the employer company, organisation, or public institution. Members shall also regard their organisational consulting activities as confidential unless written permission has been obtained to do otherwise by the company or organisation.
  5. Professional Competence
    SAOSWA members are expected to be proficient in the knowledge of work organisations and to possess advanced knowledge and skills necessary to create change at macro, meso and micro levels of intervention.

    Members recognise the boundaries of their own competence and do not provide services for which they do not have adequate experience or a specialist qualification.

    Members take all reasonable steps to ensure that their qualifications and capabilities are understood by others and to educate where necessary.

    All members are in violation of this Code and subject to termination of membership or other appropriate action taken if they:

    • 5.1. are not a fully paid up member of the South African Council for Social Service Professions
    • 5.2. are expelled from or found guilty of improper conduct by any professional organisation
    • 5.3. have their registration suspended or revoked by the South African Council for Social Service Professions
    • 5.4. have engaged in conduct which has led to a conviction relating to their professional work
  6. Record Keeping
    SAOSWA standards for confidentiality must be followed in the generation, maintenance, transmittal, storage and disposal of client records which standards are in accordance with the rules laid down by the South African Council for Social Service Professions.

    Client records should contain only the information that is directly related to and necessary for the provision of services. Any information recorded should be done on an informed-client basis.

    The information should be accurate and free from speculation or value judgments about the client, the work organisation, or others.

    Information contained in the record should be disclosed only with the client's written consent and only to those named in the written consent. Members must take all reasonable steps to safeguard the security of all records they make, especially those on computer. Where they have limited control over access to the information entered on the records, clients should be recorded by number and the names filed in a locked place elsewhere.

    Disposal of records must be either by shredding or burning to ensure complete confidentiality.
  7. Client Protection
    SAOSWA members must naturally operate within the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in regard to non-discrimination on the basis of race, colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation and age: neither on the grounds of union membership or marital status.

    Whilst conforming to the Constitution, particularly in regard to individual rights, members must provide non-discriminatory practice in all situations.

    All research should conform to national and international standards in that it safeguards the welfare of research participants by obtaining their informed consent, that they are entitled to withdraw from the research project at any time, and that identifying details will not be included in the research report.

    Members should not receive or give financial consideration for referring clients to particular therapists or treatment programmes.

    This document should be read in conjunction with the Association's Constitution and Standards for Practice .