The Social Workers Registration Board (SWRB) is undertaking consultation on proposals to change our fees and the disciplinary levy for social workers in Aotearoa.
Consultation for changes to the SWRB fees and disciplinary levy closed at 5pm on 1 December 2021.
Information about the consultation
You may still access information about the consultation proposals below.
- Download the consultation document – this is the full document with all the information and rationale for the proposed changes.
Corrections made to the consultation document on 9 November 2021.
- The table on page 25: The 2019/20 revenue figure is incorrectly stated as 5.471, whereas it is 4.251
- Wording on page 3: SWRB’s most recent published Annual Report is 2019-20, not 2020-21. The Annual Report 2020-21 publication date is expected to be mid-2022 due to government processes for external audit being deferred as a result of COVID-19.
The deadline for completing an online submissions form or making a written submission was 5.00pm Wednesday, 1 December 2021. No submissions can be accepted after this time. You can find Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of the page here.
What happens next?
We will consider the feedback in the submissions made using the online form and any written submissions against the requirements in the Auditor General and Treasury guidelines and our Act, and then make recommendations to our Board. If the Board proceeds with the fees and levy proposals, the changes will apply from the dates set out in a new Fees and Disciplinary Levy Notice.
Where can I find out what charges apply to me?
See ‘How the fee and disciplinary levy proposals would apply to me’
What are we proposing?
Most of the proposed changes relate to moving to full cost recovery of fees and the levy, where previously they had been under-charged or cross-subsidised by the practising certificate fee, and in some cases, where the cost of external experts, such as social workers and lawyers, has increased.
For most social workers, their total annual costs (practising certificate fee and disciplinary levy) will rise from $468 to $605 – a 29% increase. This is still less than the rate of inflation since 2005, where if the charges set in 2005 we had kept pace with inflation, the total would now be $632.
The proposed changes that would have the most impact for social workers include:
|Fee/Levy||Current (incl GST)||Proposed (incl GST)||% increase||Estimated Social Workers 2022/23|
|Practising Certificate fee||$368||$470||28%||8,454|
|Experience pathway (combined)||$2068||$3570||72%||25|
Please see the full table of all the proposed changes
SWRB is committed to developing a well-regulated workforce, so the public can be confident they are dealing with professionals who adhere to a Code of Conduct, are supervised, and undertake continuing professional development.
Why are we doing this?
This is the first full review of all SWRB fees and the levy since 2005.
Our limited capability to meet all of our statutory obligations is largely due to not increasing, and in some cases reducing, our fees since 2005.
Our costs have increased since 2005, as they have for other organisations, but our fees have not. They have not kept pace with inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)), so over time the funding has covered less and less, reducing our ability to meet all our core regulatory functions required under our legislation.
While this may have been possible in a voluntary environment, mandatory registration of all social workers has led to increased demands on the SWRB and more scrutiny of the workforce.
Also, the disciplinary levy was only reinstated at $50 in 2019 (having been removed in 2010 when it was $90) and now sits at $100, with disciplinary proceedings still increasing.
The levy recovers the cost of dealing with complaints and notifications, our administrative support for Professional Conduct Committees (PCC) and the Disciplinary Tribunal, as well as the external costs of PCC and Tribunal member fees and advice from independent expert registered social workers and lawyers, which we have limited control over.
Even with the levy increasing to $100 in May 2021, the costs are not being met. Last year we budgeted for 12 PCC cases and 8 Tribunal hearings, but there were 33 PCC cases with 10 set for Disciplinary Tribunal hearings. Absorbing this cost is impacting our ability to deliver other regulatory functions, which is why the levy needs to increase.
The mandatory regime requires more of us as a regulator, and we are not able to risk regulatory failure by only delivering some of our statutory obligations.
Being a modern anticipatory regulator under a mandatory regime means we have to look outwards to support registered social workers get as many things right as possible. The past trade-offs made to avoid fee and levy increases are not sustainable without risking regulatory failure.
Moving forward we propose doing inflation adjustments more regularly.
To be financially sustainable in a mandatory registration environment and reduce the need for large increases and consultation (the cost of which is met by registered social workers), we propose for the future that we do annual CPI inflation adjustments to the fees and levy, with consultation only needed for significant change projects and much higher levels of mahi.
Improvements made over the past two years
With the help of short-term funding from Government, we’ve commissioned and implemented a new database for our register and ran an information campaign about mandatory registration.
We also registered and certified 2,500 social workers ahead of the mandatory regime coming into effect, developed a Scope of Practice, and improved how we operate so it’s easier for social workers to engage with us – things like our social media presence, MySWRB online portal, and improving invoicing and other processes.
An aspect of improving what we do under the mandatory regime is better compliance with our obligations as a government Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004. To do this we’ve developed new financial systems, built a financial model, and improved our strategy, planning, and performance reporting to the Minister of Social Development.
Mahi needed under the mandatory regime
With all of the above now ‘under our belt’, and the short-term Government funding having ended, we need critical regulator capability to enable us to focus on areas we haven’t previously. The capability needed, to be built over the 3 years, is for areas that are cost-intensive to deliver, including:
Promoting and encouraging high standards of practice and professional conduct among registered social workers and employers of registered social workers to meet our obligations under section 99(1)(n) of the Act by:
- Updating the General Scope of Practice, exploring the development of future scopes, and maintaining the Code of Conduct, competence framework and standards, continuing professional development audits, supervision policy and processes, assessment panel skills, and education standards and frameworks for course recognition and approvals
- Developing regulatory guidance and practice notes to enable registered social workers to adjust to the conditions of their work in a complex, dynamic, and high-pressure setting
- Analysing trends in complaints and notifications to proactively anticipate and address, wherever possible, any risks or gaps
- Engaging with the sector on how things usually go right as a basis for explaining how things occasionally go wrong – understanding how social work as it is actually done, and the interactions among people and other elements of the system, to help registered social workers, employers and others create conditions where success is more likely
- Providing information, based on expert registered social workers’ understanding of the conditions, to help other registered social workers be flexible and resilient, and apply their professional judgement with confidence for the wide range circumstances clients face.
Being an active partner with Māori to meet our obligations under both Te Tiriti o Waitangi and section 100 of the Act. We have been making some progress recently in this area, however, there is far more we could do to better meet our obligations.
Seeking the views of Pacific peoples and cultural groups in Aotearoa to meet our obligations under section 101 of the Act.
Many charges have reduced since 2005
Many fees and the disciplinary levy have reduced since 2005 (except for the GST increase from 12.5% to 15% in October 2010).
Below is the position for our main revenue sources. The decrease in the fees in italics below has also contributed to the revenue gap.
|Year (including GST)||Practising Certificate Fee||Disciplinary Levy||Registration fee (Aotearoa applicant)||Registration fee (overseas applicant)|
|2010 Jul -Sep||$360||$0||$360||$360|
|2010 Oct – Jun to 2015 (GST change in 2010 from 12.5% to 15%)||$368||$0||$368||$368|
|2016 to 2018||$368||$0||$345||$345|
|2019 & 2020||$368||$50||$345||$345|
Current charges have not been inflation adjusted since 2005
If they had kept pace with inflation, they would be significantly higher. This also explains SWRB’s struggle to provide the resource needed for regulatory functions.
For instance, if the practising certificate fee and disciplinary levy charges set in 2005 had kept pace with inflation, the total would now be $632, rather than the $605 proposed.
Examples of what the amount would be if the fee or levy had been inflation adjusted since 2005
|Current vs inflation (CPI) adjusted||Practising Certificate Fee||Disciplinary Levy||Registration fee (Aotearoa applicant)||Registration fee (Overseas applicant)|
|Current 2020||$368||$50 |
(reinstated in 2019, then increased to $100 in 2021)
(was $450 in 2005)
(was $540 in 2005)
|Inflation (CPI) adjusted to 2021 Quarter 2*||$508||$124 |
(if retained at the 2005 $90)
(if retained at the 2005 $450)
(if retained at the 2005 $540)
The increase in registered social workers does not provide a surplus because under Government’s cost recovery model there is no profit margin, and the increase does not provide the scale to deliver economic efficiencies for fixed costs. This is because, for instance:
- Registration activity increases with each transaction, which is cost recovered for the cost of each transaction
- Practising certificate application processing is only part of the cost. As our operations levy, the rest recovers the cost of the regulatory system, for example: providing regulatory and practice advice, answering queries, developing policy with the sector, and the higher levels of infrastructure, business operations, and communications & stakeholder engagement to deal with increased numbers of registered social workers.
Table of proposed fees and disciplinary levy
|Fees and the disciplinary levy ($ incl GST)||Proposal number||Current||Proposed|
|Registration application fee |
Applies to an applicant seeking to be a registered social worker. A new registration application fee must be paid if registration documents are not received by SWRB within six months of the application being received by SWRB.
|Experience Pathway registration application fee |
Applies to an application by an applicant who does not have a SWRB-recognised Aotearoa qualification or an overseas qualification, and includes the panel assessment and registration application fee.
|Overseas applicant: qualification assessment fee |
Applies to an application by an applicant who has an overseas qualification and does not have a SWRB-recognised Aotearoa qualification.
|Overseas applicant: provisional registration competence assessment application fee |
Applies to an application by an applicant who has an overseas qualification and does not have a SWRB recognised Aotearoa qualification. This fee does not apply to an applicant who has been in Aotearoa six months or more and has 2000 hours or more social work experience in Aotearoa.
|Overseas applicant: full registration competence assessment application fee |
Applies to an application by an applicant who has an overseas qualification and does not have a SWRB recognised Aotearoa qualification.
|Provisional to full registration application fee |
Applies to an applicant who is a provisionally registered social worker and has completed 2000 hours of practise and met any conditions on the applicant’s provisional registration.
|Practising certificate fee (annual) |
Applies to a practising registered social worker for a practising certificate issued for 12 months from 1 July to 30 June each year.
|Pro rata practising certificate fee |
Applies to a social worker who, before 1 July or after 30 September:
– is newly registered, or
– registered but returning to practise and has not been working as a social worker since their last certificate expired.
The full practising certificate fee applies for subsequent years.
1 October – 31 December $354
1 January – 31 March $236
1 April – 30 June $118
|2||$368||Pro rata fee as quarterly periods (based on the proposed increased practising certificate fee) for the balance of the year before the next 1 July annual cycle |
Change in approach
|Unpaid volunteer practising certificate fee (annual)* |
An ‘unpaid volunteer’ is a registered social worker who does unpaid social work as a volunteer and has no paid work as a social worker or otherwise. Even if a registered social worker is only doing social work as an unpaid volunteer, they must hold a current practising certificate because the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 applies whether or not a registered social worker is paid for the social work they perform.
|4||$368||Reduced full fee of $370 or pro rata fee as quarterly periods |
Change in approach
|Practising certificate late non-declaration processing fee |
Applies if the declaration is not received by SWRB within 60 days of SWRB’s renewal first notification date.
|Return to practise application fee |
Applies if the application is received by SWRB 3 years or more after the applicant’s previous practising certificate expiry date.
|Disciplinary levy (annual) |
Applies to a practising registered social worker.
|Education programme recognition vetting fee |
Applies to education providers seeking SWRB recognition of an Aotearoa education programme.
|16||Up to $29,900||Up to $35,000 |
|Education programme annual fee |
Applies to education providers of a SWRB-recognised Aotearoa qualification.
|17||Up to $10,350||Up to $15,000 |
|Competence review fee if SWRB requires due to a complaint or notification |
Applies where the applicant has Aotearoa qualifications and SWRB requires a competence review due to a complaint or notification – fee applies per review.
|In-person competence review fee if required by SWRB due to a complaint or notification and the registered social worker requests an in-person assessment. |
Fee charged depends on competencies involved and process applied.
Reasonable costs of travel, accommodation & meals incurred by SWRB are additional.
Applies where the applicant has Aotearoa qualifications and SWRB requires a competence review due to a complaint or notification – fee applies per review.
|14||$3,102.70||Up to $3,330 |
|Certificate of Good Standing or hard copy registration certificate fee |
Applies to a request for a Certificate of Good Standing for overseas registration purposes or a hard copy of a registration certificate. There is no charge for digital copies of practising certificates and registration certificates.
Unpaid volunteer practising certificate fee*
|Practising certificate issued for||Proposed fee|
|Unpaid volunteer practising certificate full fee||12 months (full 4 quarters, i.e. 1 July – 30 June)||$370|
|Or pro rata unpaid volunteer practising certificate fee |
Certificate issued for a period of
|9 months (any 3 quarters, e.g. 1 July – 30 September, 1 October – 31 December, and 1 January – 31 March)||$278|
|6 months (any 2 quarters, e.g. 1 July – 30 September and 1 January – 31 March)||$185|
|3 months (any one quarter e.g. 1 April – 30 June)||$93|
Why is SWRB’s practising certificate fee higher than the Teaching Council practising certificate fee?
The Teaching Council practising certificate fee is paid by around 100,000 registered teachers, whereas the SWRB practising certificate fee is paid by around 8,500 registered social workers. The Teaching Council’s higher numbers allows some economies of scale to be achieved, which lowers its practising certificate fee.
However, the more likely reason that teachers pay less is than social workers is that the Teaching Council receives around $9 million a year in operating funding from the Government because under the Council’s Act the practising certificate fee can only recover the cost of issuing the certificate. Under SWRB’s Act the practising certificate fee can recover the cost of issuing the practising certificate and operating funding.
The Government now requires the Teaching Council move to a full cost-recovery model, like SWRB has to apply, and is changing the Teaching Council’s Act to enable it to recover operating funding. It is therefore likely that the Teaching Council’s practising certificate fee will need to increase by about $103 (incl GST) per year to recover the $9 million per year in operating funding.
How much Crown funding has SWRB received and how much is ongoing?
In 2019, SWRB secured:
- Crown funding of $1.22 million for 2019/20 to contribute to the cost of the new database and information campaign, and $667,000 for 2020/21 to complete these.
- Crown funding of $119,000 for 2019/20 to contribute to its Crown entity obligations in recognition that SWRB is the only health practitioner regulator that is a Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004. This amount decreased to $114,000 per year from 2020/21 and that amount is ongoing.
- Funding from Oranga Tamariki for 2020:
- To assist with paying new registration fees for NGO social workers working with children and families
- For additional staff to support registration applications
- A social worker to assist experience pathway registration applicants and build Pacific networks, particularly in the NGO community
- From the Ministry of Social Development for 2020:
- A MSD graduate analyst for 3 months part-time to support our review of the Act
- Funding to assist with managing SWRB’s property and lease.
In 2020, the Government appointed SWRB as the designated agency for social worker workforce planning and provided SWRB with Crown funding of $605,000 per year for this function. This amount increases to $705,000 in 2022/23 and is ongoing.
How many staff does SWRB have? How many more will there be if the change proposals go ahead?
See SWRB’s organisational charts for 2017, as at 31 October 2021, and future state (if the change proposals go ahead).
In 2017, SWRB had 9.3 FTE with a headcount of 11 people. There were 2.0 FTE registered social workers.
At that time, SWRB operated under a voluntary regime where social workers who wanted to be registered and hold a practising certificate did so, and SWRB:
- Concentrated on being a ‘registration shop’, with some education programme recognition reviews, few complaints and notifications, and limited numbers of disciplinary proceedings.
- Was a narrowly focused organisation with out-of-date manual systems and limited resource to perform all of its core regulatory functions under the Act.
- Lacked capability to enhance social worker professionalism, be an active partner with Māori as tangata whenua, and consider the views of Pacific peoples and cultural groups.
As at 31 October 2021, SWRB had a total of 26.5 FTE with 3.0 FTE vacancies. The headcount was 28 people. Of the 28 staff, 14 staff were partly Crown funded to deliver the workforce planning function and to contribute to SWRB meeting its Crown entity obligations. There were 4.8 FTE registered social workers.
If the change proposals proceed, SWRB would have 32.7 FTE. The headcount would be 35 people. Of the 35 staff, 16 staff would be partly or fully Crown funded to deliver the workforce planning function and to contribute to SWRB meeting its Crown entity obligations. The 4.8 FTE registered social workers would continue, and more registered social workers would be appointed to positions depending on the qualifications, skills and experience required for the role.
Has SWRB reviewed its structure and staff numbers?
Yes. SWRB commissioned two independent reviews of its organisational structure.
The first organisational review was in 2018. This included identifying the resources required for the implementation of mandatory registration from March 2019 to February 2021, such as the new database and processes, information campaign, increased registrations and certifications, and the Scope of Practice development. Crown funding for the 2.6 FTE fixed term staff to deliver the new database and information campaign ended in mid-2021. The registration team reduced by 6.0 FTE once we completed the transition period new registrations in February 2021.
The second organisational review was in 2020. This included identifying the changes required to deliver SWRB’s core regulatory functions under the mandatory regime from March 2021. Three of the new positions resulting from the review rely on the change proposals going ahead. Other positions have been, or are to be, filled in 2022 once we receive the additional $100,000 in Crown funding for workforce planning.
See above for SWRB’s organisational charts for 2017, as at 31 October 2021, and future state (if the change proposals go ahead).
How much will SWRB get from each fee and the levy if the change proposals go ahead? How much Crown funding does SWRB get?
The table below sets out:
- SWRB receives $705,000 Crown funding for workforce planning in 2022/23. This is the same as in 2021/22 and is ongoing.
- SWRB receives $114,000 Crown funding to contribute to the costs of meeting our Crown entity obligations in 2022/23. This is the same as in 2021/22 and is ongoing.
- If the change proposals go ahead, SWRB’s forecast revenue from each charge based on forecast volume for 2022/23. The forecast revenue for 2022/23 is $700,000 more than the 2021/22 forecast revenue.
|SWRB revenue source||2022/23 Forecast revenue based on change proposals (excl GST)||2022/23 Forecast volume (number)|
|Contribution to Crown entity obligations||$114,000||N/A|
|Workforce planning function||$705,000||N/A|
|Total Crown funding: $819,000||N/A|
|Registration application fee||$126,155||403|
|Experience pathway registration application fee||$186,261||60|
|Overseas applicant: qualification assessment fee||$64,801||138|
|Overseas applicant: provisional registration competence assessment application fee||$32,700||109|
|Overseas applicant: full registration competence assessment application fee||$10,800||36|
|Provisional to full registration application fee||$10,538||202|
|Total transactions: 934|
|Practising certificate fee (annual) and||$3,373,001||8,253|
|Pro rata practising certificate fee (based on pro rata ½ fee)||$41,454||202|
|Unpaid volunteer practising certificate fee (annual) (based on pro rata ½ fee||$1,609||10|
|Total transactions: 8,465|
|Disciplinary levy (annual)||$993,706||8,465|
|Competence review fee If required by SWRB due to a complaint or notification||$10,331||22|
|In-person competence review fee If required by SWRB due to a complaint or notification and the registered social worker requests an in-person assessment||$2,896||1|
|Total transactions: 8,488|
|Practising certificate late non-declaration processing fee||$12,783||105|
|Return to practise application fee||$3,000||10|
|Certificate of Good Standing or hard copy registration certificate fee||$1,217||20|
|Total transactions: 135|
|Education programme fees|
|Education programme recognition application fee||$0||Rarely occurs|
|Education programme annual fee Sliding scale in bands based on equivalent full-time students (EFTS) graduating with social work degrees in the previous year||$170,000||N/A|
|SWRB total 2022/23 forecast revenue||$5,860,252|
What were SWRB costs in 2020/21 and what will they be in 2021/22 and 2022/23?
SWRB’s most recent published Annual Report is 2019-2020. We are unbale to publish our Annual Report 2020-2021 because the government processes for external audit have been deferred to 2022 as a result of COVID-19.
The table below sets out SWRB’s:
- Estimated expenses as shown in our published Statement of Performance Expectations 2020-2021
- Forecast expenses for 2021/22
- Forecast expenses for 2022/23.
|SWRB Forecast Expenses||2020/21 |
From the published Statement of Performance Expectations 2020-2021 ($1,392,000 of these costs are met by Crown funding)
Forecast expenses as at June 2021
($718,000 of these costs are met by Crown funding)
Forecast expenses ($819,000 of these costs are met by Crown funding)
|Office costs |
Rent, electricity, cleaning, security
|Professional Conduct Committee and Disciplinary Tribunal |
External expert costs
|Publications, promotions, social media |
Annual Report, Statement of Performance Expectations, Statement of Intent Website, Facebook
|Depreciation & amortisation Database, office furniture & equipment||$120,347||$117,004||$127,087|
|Personnel costs |
Salary, ACC, KiwiSaver, recruitment
External assessor fees
|Other expenses |
Board fees and travel costs
Equipment leases, software, data use & storage, insurance
External audit fees, external legal fees Stakeholder meetings & events
Staff travel costs, training & professional development, professional fees (registered social workers, accountant, lawyers)
Police vetting of social worker applicants
Why are you consulting when we are under restrictions for COVID-19, especially in Auckland?
- While, ideally, we would consult when this wasn’t the case, we can no longer wait for restrictions to end. We want to give social workers and their employers enough time to budget for any potential change. All our consultation will be done electronically, alongside Zoom hui and social media.
- We acknowledge that for those especially on the frontline, this period is hugely demanding of their time and energy. However, to provide sufficient time to plan ahead SWRB has decided it cannot delay consultation further.
You have a lot more social workers on the register now so why aren’t fees lower?
- Mandatory registration and certification have led to increased demands on SWRB and more scrutiny of social workers. Complaints and notifications are continuing to increase, and we have more work to do to enhance professionalism while keeping public safety at the forefront of all that we do.
- It’s the practising certificate fees which pay for operating SWRB while the disciplinary levy pays for the complaints and disciplinary processes (which you can find out more about later in the FAQs).
- The practising certificate fee pays for the cost of issuing a practising certificate and for the costs of the running the regulatory system for example: providing regulatory and practice advice, answering queries, developing policy with the sector, and the higher levels of infrastructure, business operations, and communications & stakeholder engagement to deal with increased numbers of registered social workers.
- The Board has the authority to charge fees under S108 of the Act, including for “any other matter relating to anything the Board is required to do in order to carry out its functions”.
What is SWRB doing to help social workers?
We have been listening to what the sector told us needs to change and we have:
- Shifted from a paper-based system to a new digital system and online database, which makes it faster and easier for social workers to apply for registration, renew their practising certificate, update their CPD log, and keep a record of any correspondence.
- Provided social workers with the option to pay in instalments for their practising certificate (as requested by social workers and now possible with the new digital system).
- Provided for employers to make a single payment for their social workers’ fees
We are also proposing to:
- An unpaid volunteer practising certificate reduced fee and pro rata options in recognition that unpaid volunteers who only do social work as a registered social worker (and have no other paid work) mostly do so as part-time supervisors/mentors, are not often in client-facing positions, and may only practise for part of the year.
- Even if a registered social worker is only doing social work as an unpaid volunteer, they must hold a current practising certificate because the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 applies whether or not a registered social worker is paid for the social work they perform.
- The reduced practising certificate fee and pro rata options are to recognise that unpaid volunteers are not being paid for their social work or otherwise.
- Pro rata practising certificate fees for a social worker who, before 1 July or after 30 September:
- is newly registered, or
- registered but returning to practise and has not been working as a social worker since their last certificate expired.
This means the social worker can pay a pro rata practising certificate fee (based on quarterly periods), for the balance of the year before the next annual cycle.
E.g. If registering and there’s 6 months remaining before the next 1 July annual cycle, they would pay half the practising certificate fee to reflect they are only registered for 6 months of that cycle.
If fees and the levy do increase, what do you plan to do with the funding?
As referred to above, we plan to reduce the practising certificate fee for unpaid volunteer social workers, but we also need to build regulatory capability over the next three years so SWRB can:
- Promote high standards of practice among social workers and employers of social workers to meet our obligations under section 99 of the Act
- Be an active partner with Māori to meet our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and section 100 of the Act.
- Seek the views of Pacific people and other cultural groups to meet our obligations under section 101 of the Act.
You once told us when mandatory was in place, fees would go down. Why are they going up?
That’s a good question, and those comments look to have come from SWRB’s 2015 review of the Act. In that review, it stated, ‘mandatory registration would likely lead to a reduction in costs as a result of economy of scale.’ Since 2015, a lot has changed:
- SWRB advice was based on limited information
- SWRB didn’t know until February 2021 how many registered social workers there would be.
What happens to my submission after the consultation period ends?
- We will consider the feedback in the submissions made using the online form and any written submissions against the requirements in the Auditor General and Treasury guidelines and our Act, and then make recommendations to our Board.
- If the Board proceeds with the fees and levy proposals, the changes will apply from the dates set out in a new Fees and Disciplinary Levy Notice.
Where can I find out what charges apply to me?
See ‘How the fee and disciplinary levy proposals would apply to me’
Disciplinary Levy FAQs
Why is the disciplinary levy being raised from $100 to $135?
- The disciplinary levy pays for the costs of running the complaints and disciplinary processes, both internally (SWRB) and externally (PCCs & Tribunals). As the number of complaints increases, so do the costs. The mandatory registration of all social workers has led to increased demands on SWRB and more scrutiny of the social workers.
- We face many more notifications and higher numbers of disciplinary issues are having to go to PCCs and the Tribunal than for other similar-size regulators (not surprising when the profession is newly into a mandatory environment).
- SWRB has to assess all complaints and notifications, and that’s a lot of work. The team has to:
- Gather information from those involved
- Triage – assess
- Prepare a Board paper
- Seek further information if asked by SWRB’s Board, which can then refer the matter to:
- A Professional Conduct Committee (external to SWRB). A PCC is comprised of two registered social workers and a lay person, and their investigation is thorough and can take some time. For the most serious cases, it can lay a charge with the:
- The Social Workers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (external to SWRB). The Tribunal is quasi-judicial body, with similar powers, processes, and costs to a District Court. Each hearing consists of five people, including three registered social workers, a layperson, and the Chair or Deputy Chair (who must be experienced and practising lawyers) who have to prepare, preside over the hearing, and finally issue a written decision.
- Provide administrative support to the PCCs and Tribunal.
Why should I pay for the few social workers who don’t behave professionally?
- It protects your reputation as social workers and the social work profession – the increase in cases and hearings shows the regulatory system is working as those social workers not practising in a professional way are held to account by their colleagues, their employers, the public, and by SWRB assessing the notifications and undertaking investigations.
- There are costs but a regulated profession is one where your reputation as a professional is protected by standards being kept high.
- The Board has authority to charge a disciplinary levy under section 109 of the Act.
Why should I care if complaints increase? It’s not about me.
- The increase in complaints and notifications shows the regulatory system is working with more people getting in touch with SWRB and this protects your reputation as a social worker, because unprofessional behaviour is held to account.
Are you aware of the impact an increase in the levy will have for social workers?
- We are very aware of the constraints social workers operate under and encourage employers to support their staff by paying their practising certificate fee and disciplinary levy. A significant number of employers already do, and we hope that number grows now we are in a mandatory environment.
- SWRB works hard to keep costs down and will continue to do so. For instance, our new digital systems (the cost of which was largely met by Government) have provided efficiencies that has meant the fees and levy do not need to increase as much as they would have had to if this had not been done.
- SWRB is committed to balancing its obligations as a regulator having public safety and enhancing the professionalism of social workers as its aims with holding the costs as low as possible for social workers.