COVID-19 update

As the regulator, the SWRB recognises that social workers, employers and communities are facing challenging circumstances in response to COVID-19. 

We are working remotely using zoom and offering most of our services which you can find out more about below.

Social workers

Some of you will be part of the essential services but those who are not need to heed the government’s direction to stay at home.

If you are at work or out in the community as part of the response to COVID-19, your employer should have plans in place for how you can practise safely.

We suggest speaking to your employer directly if you have concerns about your health and work through how they can adopt flexible approaches to working, including working from home, and fulfil all their obligations under the Health Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). Those employers delivering essential services are asked to consider measures to:

  • minimise personal interactions among staff, and with and between clients, and
  • ensure appropriate heath, hygiene and safety measures are in place.

It is for each sector or employer to decide how best to do this. 

We also encourage you to use your professional judgement to assess the risk to deliver safe care informed by the values and principles set out in the Code of Conduct.

The key principles which should be followed include:

  • the need to work cooperatively with colleagues to keep people safe,
  • to practise in line with the best available evidence, and
  • to recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

We recognise that in highly challenging circumstances, you may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for clients. If concerns are raised about your decisions and actions it will always be considered, taking into account the factors relevant at the time.  

You can also contact ANZASW at or (03) 349 0190 which is the professional association for social workers in New Zealand.


Employers should have plans in place for how staff can practise safely, if they are at work or out in the community as part of the response to COVID-19.

There is good advice available for employers on the government website:

There are also some practical steps you can take to protect yourself and others, including:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently (for at least 20 seconds)
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues, and put them in the bin
  • Change your greetings to a big smile and avoid personal contact so please don’t hongi, shake hands, kiss or hug.

The best place to get advice on COVID-19 is the Ministry of Health website and the government’s COVID-19 website.

SWRB work

We have looked at what the SWRB will need to do now that we have to work remotely, and this is what we’re committed to:

  • Registration – we will maintain the Public Register, continue to issue Practising Certificates, and we will now be able to continue to accept new registrations electronically. Please see our Apply to Register page here.
  • Complaints – we will continue to assess notifications and complaints
  • Education – we will work with educators on maintaining education standards for programmes
  • IT system support – we’re committed to making sure the system can operate remotely
  • Accounts – we plan to be able to pay bills

We are looking after our staff so they can continue looking after you by the following approaches:

  • Working from home – we are working remotely
  • Level 3 – our staff continue to work from home and are following level 3 requirements
  • Roadshows – we are moving to a digital approach, and will be temporarily suspending any forums