The title ‘social worker’ is protected which means that only people registered as social workers with a UK regulatory body can practise the profession in the UK.
There are four regulators in the UK and you must be registered with the correct one for the region you wish to work in. Your registration does not automatically transfer between the regulators so if you move to a new region, you will have to complete a new registration process.
The four UK regulators are:
England – Health and Care Professions Council
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Social Service Council
Scotland – Scottish Social Service Council
Wales – Care Council of Wales
In order to be added to any of these social work registers, you must have an approved qualification which is the UK Social Work Degree (undergraduate or postgraduate) or equivalent. You must also meet the requirements of the regulator’s code of conduct and undergo background checks to ensure you have no criminal convictions that would make you unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults or children. You can find out more about these checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
Once registered, you should meet all requirements for continued professional development and the code of conduct to ensure that you remain on the register.
The regulatory bodies also investigate complaints of professional misconduct against social workers and can remove or suspend them from the register – preventing them from practising – if professional misconduct is proved.