UNISON defends social worker member disciplined for helping family

Camden UNISON has successfully defended a social worker member with over 30 years experience who was pulled in front of a disciplinary hearing following coming into work outside of standard working hours to support the family of a child who died.

The member acknowledged that they should have contacted their manager before coming into work, and agreed with their manager that they would sign a formal letter stating they would not do so again, and that would be the end of the matter. However subsequently a more senior manager got involved and the dedicated social worker was hauled through the formal disciplinary process, causing untold stress.

This despite the fact that almost every professional involved in the case wrote statements praising the excellent work the social worker did supporting a vulnerable family.

Other social work members managed to help by completing a Camden UNISON survey which showed that nearly 80% of social work staff had worked outside of their standard hours without management approval on multiple occasions. And 93% opposed disciplining a worker for doing so. Importantly, nearly 70% also said that if a member were disciplined for this it would make them less likely to work beyond their hours.

The member’s union rep also pointed out in the hearing that in our view the department essentially relies on social worker members consistently going above and beyond the call of duty and working beyond their standard hours.

After putting forward a robust defence in hearing, Camden UNISON also informed management that we would launch a public campaign in defence of the member if they were penalised in the hearing.

After an adjournment for some days, management agreed not to take any formal action.

We believe this shows the importance for all of us to part of the union, and we would like to thank those social work members who supported their colleague by completing the UNISON survey.

On the conclusion of the case, the member had this to say:

I would like to thank [my Unison rep] and Unison members for their support during the last sixteen weeks.

I was relieved to hear last week that the case had been resolved and I cannot thank [my rep] and Unison enough for their supporting a case when I acted in good faith to support a highly distressed parents.

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