Mandatory registration

As you may be aware, New Zealand is shifting to mandatory registration of all social workers by February 27th 2021, and your support as the sector goes through these changes is appreciated. 

It’s a move which social workers, the SWRB, and others in the sector have long worked for. 

Mandatory registration Social Workers Registration Board

We see mandatory registration as being vital to reassuring the public that social workers work to a code of conduct and are part of a fully professional workforce, which will strengthen trust in the profession. It will enable social work to take its place alongside other regulated professions such as teaching, law, accounting, and health.

Steps to take

  1. Registration
    1. Those of your staff who want to keep practising as a social worker, are called or are known as a social worker, will need to become registered before the deadline.
    2. We are keen to work with you and your staff to help you through to registration. They can check whether they are eligible to apply for registration here. (Scroll down for eligibility tool)
  2. Practising Certificate
    1. Your registered social workers will also need to hold a valid Practising Certificate which they renew each year before 1 July as it expires 30 June. 
    2. This includes those who use social work skills, and:
      1. work directly with clients
      2. are involved with casework decisions at any level
      3. manage and/or supervise other social workers
      4. develop policy that impacts upon frontline social workers
      5. teach social work practice or theory

It currently takes between 12 – 14 weeks for the SWRB and its Board to process applications for registration so we would encourage you to advise social workers to start applying now.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know the value of the social work profession and the work that they do – and as employers of social workers you will recognise this also. As the sector goes through this shift to mandatory registration you can show your support by ensuring your social workers are registered.

Why do my social workers need to be registered?

From 27 February 2021, it will be mandatory for all social workers to be registered, following changes to our legislation. We see mandatory registration as being vital and a step forward for the social work profession. It reassures the public that social workers work within a code of conduct and are part of a fully professional workforce. That means tamariki, whānau, communities, and employers can be confident in the care, advice and support from social workers. It will bring greater transparency and help build trust, and enable social work to take its place alongside other regulated professions such as teaching, law, accounting, and health.

How will it benefit my organisation?

It shows your organisation supports and stands behind a fully professional workforce which ultimately shows the public that you take your obligations to public safety seriously.

It’s in all our interests that this profession is successful and robust. By supporting a registered social worker, regardless of whether the position is called social work, you know your staff are meeting professional standards, including ongoing professional development.

It increases assurances that your clients have a professional working alongside them who is accountable for their practice. It gives everyone in the sector and the public greater reassurance around social workers’ qualifications, fitness to practise, and accountability, and it helps to build trust in the social work profession.

A workforce which is competent, fit to practise, and has social workers who will be held accountable by the SWRB, helps mitigate risk for employers and organisations.

What steps do I need to take?

  1. You need to make sure that the social workers you employ are registered by 27 February 2021, and hold a Practising Certificate (if they are practising).
    1. We will help your staff through the process of registration – there’s information on our website about what they need to do. For those who don’t have a qualification they may be eligible for our Experience pathway: S13. If you are covering the costs, we will work with you on how payment works.
    2. As an employer you cannot ‘hold someone out’ or present an employee as a social worker if they are not registered, once mandatory registration comes into effect. 
  2. Your staff who are registered social workers will need to hold a valid Practising Certificate, which they must renew each year, in order to practise legally.
    1. The Practising Certificate is a declaration from each social worker that they are competent and fit to practise.
  3. We need you to tell us about any issues that could affect the ability of your social work staff to practise safely.
    1. As a regulator, public safety is paramount for us.  As an employer you need to inform  the SWRB if you have any concerns about any of your social workers re:
      1. serious misconduct
      2. health issues which impact their practice
      3. their competence
    2. You can find more information about when you need to talk to us here.

What about employees who do social work but their job title is not a social worker and they aren’t registered?

If an employee is registered and they do social work, they need to have a Practising Certificate. This is the case even if they aren’t called a social worker. As long as they are registered and doing social work, they need to have a Practising Certificate.

If you employ someone based on their social work qualification and the social work skills that come with the qualification are an important part of their job, we would encourage you to register those staff. You cannot present any employee as a social worker unless they are registered, once mandatory registration comes into effect.

I have an experienced social worker who has no social work qualification –  what can they do?

We are keen to support those social workers who have significant experience but do not have a social work qualification. If they have lots of social work experience in New Zealand (at least 10 – 15 years plus) they can apply to become registered under the Experience Pathway: S13.  Please go to our website – https://swrb.govt.nz/social-workers/experience-pathway-s13/.

Do I have to pay for my social workers’ registration and Practising Certificate?

Many organisations do pay for their social workers’ registration and Practising Certificates as part of their employment agreement and to support their professional staff.  However, it is the social worker’s responsibility to apply to become registered and to hold a valid Practising Certificate.

How do I know which of my staff will need a Practising Certificate?

All registered social workers who are practising social work are required to hold a valid Practising Certificate which they need to renew each year.  It expires on the 30th June and must be renewed by social workers completing an online form on MySWRB, on the SWRB website.

This includes social workers who:

  • work directly with clients;
  • are involved with casework decisions at any level;
  • call themselves a social worker or have a job title as a social worker;
  • manage and/or supervise other social workers;
  • teach social work practice or theory;
  • develop policy that impacts upon frontline social workers.

If you are not sure whether a Practising Certificate is required, please get in touch by emailing us at applications@swrb.govt.nz or call 0508 797 269.