Senate Bill No. 25
(By Senators Boley, Minear and Weeks)
[Introduced February 9, 2005; referred to the Committee
on Health and Human Resources; and then to the Committee on the
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated §30-30A-1, §30-30A-2,
§30-30A-3, §30-30A-4, §30-30A-5, §30-30A-6 and §30-30A-7,
relating to establishing social workers' code of ethics.
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new article, designated §30-30A-1, §30-30A-2,
§30-30A-3, §30-30A-4, §30-30A-5, §30-30A-6 and §30-30A-7
, all to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 30A. SOCIAL WORKERS' CODE OF ETHICS.
§30-30A-1. Ethical standards.
The following ethical standards are relevant to the
professional activities of all social workers. These standards
concern: (1) Social workers' ethical responsibilities to clients; (2) social workers' ethical responsibilities to colleagues; (3)
social workers' ethical responsibilities in practice settings; (4)
social workers' ethical responsibilities as professionals; (5)
social workers' ethical responsibilities to the social work
profession; and (6) social workers' ethical responsibilities to the
Some of the standards that follow are enforceable guidelines
for professional conduct, and some are aspirational. The extent to
which each standard is enforceable is a matter of professional
judgment to be exercised by those responsible for reviewing alleged
violations of ethical standards.
§30-30A-2. Social workers? ethical responsibilities to clients.
(a) Commitment to clients. -- Social workers' primary
responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In
general, clients? interests are primary. However, social workers?
responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations
may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients and
clients shall be advised, such as when a social worker is required
by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened
to harm themself or others.
(b) Self-determination. -
Social workers' respect and promote
the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and c1arify their goals. Social workers
may limit clients' right to self-determination when, in the social
workers' professional judgment, clients? actions or potential
actions pose a serious, foreseeable and imminent risk to themselves
(c) Informed consent. -
(1) Social workers shall provide services to clients only in
the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate,
on valid informed consent. Social workers shall use clear and
understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the
services, risks related to the services, limits to services because
of the requirements of a third-party payer, relevant costs,
reasonable alternatives, clients? right to refuse or withdraw
consent and the time frame covered by the consent. Social workers
shall provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions.
(2) In instances when clients are not literate or have
difficulty understanding the primary language used in the practice
setting, social workers shall take steps to ensure clients?
comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed
verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or
translator whenever possible.
(3) In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide
informed consent, social workers shall protect clients? interests
by seeking permission from an appropriate third party, informing
clients consistent with the clients? level of understanding. In
these instances social workers shall seek to ensure that the third
party acts in a manner consistent with clients? wishes and
interests. Social workers shall take reasonable steps to enhance
a client's ability to give informed consent.
(4) In instances when clients are receiving services
involuntarily, social workers shall provide information about the
nature and extent of services and about the extent of clients?
right to refuse service.
(5) Social workers who provide services via electronic media,
such as computer, telephone, radio, and television, shall inform
recipients of the limitations and risks associated with these
(6) Social workers shall obtain clients? informed consent
before audiotaping or videotaping clients or permitting observation
of services to clients by a third party.
(d) Competence. -
(1) Social workers shall provide services and represent themselves as competent only within the boundaries of their
education, training, license, certification, consultation received,
supervised experience or other relevant professional experience.
(2) Social workers shall provide services in substantive areas
or use intervention techniques or approaches that are new to them
only after engaging in appropriate study, training, consultation,
and supervision from people who are competent in those
interventions or techniques.
(3) When generally recognized standards do not exist with
respect to an emerging area of practice, social workers shall
exercise careful judgment and take responsible steps, including,
but not limited to, appropriate education, research, training,
consultation and supervision, to ensure the competence of their
work and to protect clients from harm.
(e) Cultural competence and social diversity. -
(1) Social workers shall understand culture and its function
in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist
in all cultures.
(2) Social workers shall have a knowledge base of their
clients? cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the
provision of services that are sensitive to clients? cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.
(3) Social workers shall obtain education about and seek to
understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with
respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual
orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion and
mental or physical disability.
(f) Conflicts of interest. -
(1) Social workers shall be alert to and avoid conflicts of
interest that interfere with the exercise of professional
discretion and impartial judgment.
Social workers shall inform clients when a real or potential
conflict of interest arises and take reasonable steps to resolve
the issue in a manner that makes the clients? interests primary and
protects a client's interests to the greatest extent possible. In
some cases, protecting clients' interests may require termination
of the professional relationship with proper referral of the
(2) Social workers may not take unfair advantage of any
professional relationship or exploit others to further their
personal, religious, political or business interests.
(3) Social workers may not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a
risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. In instances
when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers
shall take steps to protect clients, and are responsible for
setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries.
Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to
clients in more than one relationship, whether professional, social
or business. Dual or multiple relationships can occur
simultaneously or consecutively.
(4) When social workers provide services to two or more people
who have a relationship with each other, such as couples and family
members, social workers shall clarify with all parties which
individuals will be considered clients and the nature of the social
workers? professional obligations to the various individuals who
are receiving services. Social workers who anticipate a conflict
of interest among the individuals receiving services or who
anticipate having to perform in potentially conflicting roles, such
as when a social worker is asked to testify in a child custody
dispute or divorce proceedings involving clients, shall clarify
their role with the parties involved and take appropriate action to
minimize any conflict of interest.
(g) Privacy and confidentiality. -
(1) Social workers shall respect a client's right to privacy.
Social workers may not solicit private information from clients
unless it is essential in providing services or conducting social
work evaluation or research. Once private information is shared,
standards of confidentiality apply.
(2) Social workers may disclose confidential information when
appropriate with valid consent from a client or a person legally
authorized to consent on behalf of a client.
(3) Social workers shall protect the confidentiality of all
information obtained in the course of professional service, except
for compelling professional reasons. The general expectation that
social workers will keep information confidential does not apply
when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable and
imminent harm to a client or other identifiable person. In all
instances, social workers shall disclose the least amount of
confidential information necessary to achieve the desired purpose
and only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for
which the disclosure is made shall be revealed.
(4) Social workers shall inform clients, to the extent
possible, about the disclosure of confidential information and the potential consequences, when feasible before the disclosure is
made. This applies whether social workers disclose confidential
information on the basis of a legal requirement or client consent.
(5) Social workers shall discuss with clients and other
interested parties the nature of confidentiality and limitations of
clients? right to confidentiality. Social workers shall review
with clients circumstances where confidential information may be
requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be
legally required. This discussion shall occur as soon as possible
in the social worker-client relationship and as needed throughout
the course of the relationship.
(6) When social workers provide counseling services to
families, couples or groups, social workers shall seek an agreement
among the parties involved concerning each individual?s right to
confidentiality and obligation to preserve the confidentiality of
information shared by others. Social workers shall inform
participants in family, couples or group counseling that social
workers cannot guarantee that all participants will honor the
(7) Social workers shall inform clients involved in family,
couples, marital or group counseling of the social worker?s, employer?s, and agency?s policy concerning the social worker?s
disclosure of confidential information among the parties involved
in the counseling.
(8) Social workers may not disclose confidential information
to third-party payers unless clients have authorized such
(9) Social workers may not discuss confidential information in
any setting unless privacy can be ensured. Social workers may not
discuss confidential information in public or semipublic areas such
as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and restaurants.
(10) Social workers shall protect the confidentiality of
clients during legal proceedings to the extent permitted by law.
When a court of law or other legally authorized body orders social
workers to disclose confidential or privileged information without
a client's consent and such disclosure could cause harm to the
client, social workers shall request that the court withdraw the
order or limit the order as narrowly as possible or maintain the
records under seal, unavailable for public inspection.
(11) Social workers shall protect the confidentiality of
clients when responding to requests from members of the media.
(12) Social workers shall protect the confidentiality of clients? written and electronic records and other sensitive
information. Social workers shall take reasonable steps to ensure
that clients? records are stored in a secure location and that
clients? records are not available to others who are not authorized
to have access.
(13) Social workers shall take precautions to ensure and
maintain the confidentiality of information transmitted to other
parties through the use of computers, electronic mail, facsimile
machines, telephones and telephone answering machines, and other
electronic or computer technology. Disclosure of identifying
information shall be avoided whenever possible.
(14) Social workers shall transfer or dispose of clients?
records in a manner that protects clients? confidentiality and is
consistent with State statutes governing records and social work
(15) Social workers shall take reasonable precautions to
protect client confidentiality in the event of the social worker?s
termination of practice, incapacitation or death.
(16) Social workers may not disclose identifying information
when discussing clients for teaching or training purposes unless
the client has consented to disclosure of confidential information.
(17) Social workers may not disclose identifying information
when discussing clients with consultants unless the client has
consented to disclosure of confidential information or there is a
compelling need for such disclosure.
(18) Social workers shall protect the confidentiality of
deceased clients consistent with the preceding standards.
(h) Access to records. -
(1) Social workers shall provide clients with reasonable
access to records concerning the clients. Social workers who are
concerned that clients? access to their records could cause serious
misunderstanding or harm to the client shall provide assistance in
interpreting the records and consultation with the client regarding
the records. Social workers shall limit clients? access to their
records, or portions of their records, only in exceptional
circumstances when there is compelling evidence that such access
would cause serious harm to the client. Both clients? requests and
the rationale for withholding some or all of the record shall be
documented in clients? files.
(2) When providing clients with access to their records,
social workers shall take steps to protect the confidentiality of
other individuals identified or discussed in such records.
(i) Sexual relationships. -
(1) Social workers shall under no circumstances engage in
sexual activities or sexual contact with current clients, whether
such contact is consensual or forced.
(2) Social workers may not engage in sexual activities or
sexual contact with clients? relatives or other individuals with
whom clients maintain a close personal relationship when there is
a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. Sexual
activity or sexual contact with clients? relatives or other
individuals with whom clients maintain a personal relationship has
the potential to be harmful to the client and may make it difficult
for the social worker and client to maintain appropriate
professional boundaries. Social workers, not their clients, their
clients? relatives or other individuals with whom the client
maintains a personal relationship, assume the full burden for
setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries.
(3) Social workers may not engage in sexual activities or
sexual contact with former clients because of the potential for
harm to the client. If social workers engage in conduct contrary
to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, it is the
social workers, not their clients, who assume the full burden of
demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited,
coerced or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.
(4) Social workers may not provide clinical services to
individuals with whom they have had a prior sexual relationship.
Providing clinical services to a former sexual partner has the
potential to be harmful to the individual and is likely to make it
difficult for the social worker and individual to maintain
appropriate professional boundaries.
(j) Physical contact. -
Social workers may not engage in
physical contact with clients when there is a possibility of
psychological harm to the client as a result of the contact, such
as cradling or caressing clients. Social workers who engage in
appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for
setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that
govern such physical contact.
(k) Sexual harassment. -- Social workers may not sexually
harass clients. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to,
sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
(l) Derogatory language. -- Social workers may not use
derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or
about clients. Social workers shall use accurate and respectful
language in all communications to and about clients.
(m) Payment for services. -
(1) When setting fees, social workers shall ensure that the
fees are fair, reasonable and commensurate with the services
performed. Consideration shall be given to clients? ability to
(2) Social workers shall avoid accepting goods or services
from clients as payment for professional services. Bartering
arrangements, particularly involving services, create the potential
for conflicts of interest, exploitation and inappropriate
boundaries in social workers? relationships with clients. Social
workers shall explore and may participate in bartering only in very
limited circumstances when it can be demonstrated that these
arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the
local community, considered to be essential for the provision of services, negotiated without coercion and entered into at the
client?s initiative and with the client?s informed consent. Social
workers who accept goods or services from clients as payment for
professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that
this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or the
(3) Social workers may not solicit a private fee or other
remuneration for providing services to clients who are entitled to
such available services through the social workers? employer or
(n) Clients who lack decision-making capacity. -- When social
workers act on behalf of clients who lack the capacity to make
informed decisions, social workers shall take reasonable steps to
safeguard the interests and rights of those clients.
(o) Interruption of services. - Social workers shall make
reasonable efforts to ensure continuity of services in the event
that services are interrupted by factors such as unavailability,
relocation, illness, disability, or death.
(p) Termination of services. -
(1) Social workers shall terminate services to clients and
professional relationships with them when the services and
relationships are no longer required or no longer serve the
clients? needs or interests.
(2) Social workers shall take reasonable steps to avoid
abandoning clients who are still in need of services. Social
workers shall withdraw services precipitously only under unusual
circumstances, giving careful consideration to all factors in the
situation and taking care to minimize possible adverse effects.
Social workers shall assist in making appropriate arrangements for
continuation of services when necessary.
(3)Social workers in fee-for-service settings may terminate
services to clients who are not paying an overdue balance if the
financial contractual arrangements have been made clear to the
client, if the client does not pose an imminent danger to self or
others, and if the clinical and other consequences of the current
nonpayment have been addressed and discussed with the client.
(4) Social workers may not terminate services to pursue a
social, financial, or sexual relationship with a client.
(5) Social workers who anticipate the termination or
interruption of services to clients may notify clients promptly and
seek the transfer, referral, or continuation of services in
relation to the clients? needs and preferences.
(6) Social workers who are leaving an employment setting shall
inform clients of appropriate options for the continuation of
services and of the benefits and risks of the options.
§30-30A-3. Social workers? ethical responsibilities to colleagues.
(a) Respect. -
(1) Social workers shall treat colleagues with respect and
shall represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views,
and obligations of colleagues.
(2) Social workers shall avoid unwarranted negative criticism
of colleagues in communications with clients or with other
professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include
demeaning comments that refer to colleagues? level of competence or
to individuals? attributes such as race, ethnicity, national
origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status,
political belief, religion, and mental or physical disability.
(3) Social workers shall cooperate with social work colleagues
and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation
serves the well-being of clients.
(b) Confidentiality. -- Social workers shall respect
confidential information shared by colleagues in the course of
their professional relationships and transactions. Social workers
shall ensure that such colleagues understand social workers?
obligation to respect confidentiality and any exceptions related to
(c) Interdisciplinary collaboration. -
(1) Social workers who are members of an interdisciplinary
team shall participate in and contribute to decisions that affect
the well-being of clients by drawing on the perspectives, values,
and experiences of the social work profession. Professional and
ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of
its individual members shall be clearly established.
(2) Social workers for whom a team decision raises ethical
concerns shall attempt to resolve the disagreement through
appropriate channels. If the disagreement cannot be resolved, social workers shall pursue other avenues to address their concerns
consistent with client well-being.
(d) Disputes involving colleagues. -
(1) Social workers may not take advantage of a dispute between
a colleague and an employer to obtain a position or otherwise
advance the social workers? own interests.
(2) Social workers may not exploit clients in disputes with
colleagues or engage clients in any inappropriate discussion of
conflicts between social workers and their colleagues.
(e) Consultation. -
(1) Social workers shall seek the advice and counsel of
colleagues whenever such consultation is in the best interests of
(2) Social workers shall keep themselves informed about
colleagues? areas of expertise and competencies. Social workers
shall seek consultation only from colleagues who have demonstrated
knowledge, expertise, and competence related to the subject of the
(3) When consulting with colleagues about clients, social workers shall disclose the least amount of information necessary to
achieve the purposes of the consultation.
(f) Referral for services. -
(1) Social workers shall refer clients to other professionals
when the other professionals? specialized knowledge or expertise is
needed to serve clients fully or when social workers believe that
they are not being effective or making reasonable progress with
clients and that additional service is required.
(2) Social workers who refer clients to other professionals
shall take appropriate steps to facilitate an orderly transfer of
responsibility. Social workers who refer clients to other
professionals shall disclose, with clients' consent, all pertinent
information to the new service providers.
(3)Social workers are prohibited from giving or receiving
payment for a referral when no professional service is provided by
the referring social worker.
(g) Sexual relationships. -
(1) Social workers who function as supervisors or educators
may not engage in sexual activities or contact with supervisors, students, trainees, or other colleagues over whom they exercise
(2) Social workers shall avoid engaging in sexual
relationships with colleagues when there is potential for a
conflict of interest. Social workers who become involved in, or
anticipate becoming involved in, a sexual relationship with a
colleague have a duty to transfer professional responsibilities,
when necessary, to avoid a conflict of interest.
(h) Sexual harassment. -- Social workers may not sexually
harass supervisors, students, trainees or colleagues. Sexual
harassment includes, but is not limited to, sexual advances, sexual
solicitation, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or
physical conduct of a sexual nature.
(i) Impairment of colleagues. -
(1) Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work
colleague?s impairment that is due to personal problems,
psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health
difficulties and that interferes with practice effectiveness shall
consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.
(2) Social workers who believe that a social work colleague?s
impairment interferes with practice effectiveness and that the
colleague has not taken adequate steps to address the impairment
shall take action through appropriate channels established by
employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and
other professional organizations.
(j) Incompetence of colleagues. -
(1) Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work
colleague?s incompetence shall consult with that colleague when
feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.
(2) Social workers who believe that a social work colleague is
incompetent and has not taken adequate steps to address the
incompetence shall take action through appropriate channels
established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory
bodies, and other professional organizations.
(k) Unethical conduct of colleagues. -
(1) Social workers shall take adequate measures to discourage,
prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues.
(2) Social workers shall be knowledgeable about established
policies and procedures for handling concerns about colleagues?
unethical behavior. Social workers shall be familiar with
national, State, and local procedures for handling ethics
complaints. These include policies and procedures created by NASW,
licensing and regulatory bodies, employers, agencies and other
(3) Social workers who believe that a colleague has acted
unethically shall seek resolution by discussing their concerns with
the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to
(4) When necessary, social workers who believe that a
colleague has acted unethically shall take action through
appropriate formal channels, such as contacting a state licensing
board or regulatory body, an NASW committee on inquiry or other
professional ethics committees.
(5) Social workers shall defend and assist colleagues who are
unjustly charged with unethical conduct.
§30-30A-4. Social workers? ethical responsibilities in practice settings.
(a) Supervision and consultation. -
(1) Social workers who provide supervision or consultation
shall have the necessary knowledge and skill to supervise or
consult appropriately and shall do so only within their areas of
knowledge and competence.
(2) Social workers who provide supervision or consultation are
responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally
(3) Social workers may not engage in any dual or multiple
relationships with supervisers in which there is a risk of
exploitation of or potential harm to the supervisee.
(4) Social workers who provide supervision shall evaluate
supervisers' performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.
(b) Education and training. -
(1) Social workers who function as educators, field
instructors for students, or trainers shall provide instruction
only within their areas of knowledge and competence and shall
provide instruction based on the most current information and knowledge available in the profession.
(2) Social workers who function as educators or field
instructors for students shall evaluate students? performance in a
manner that is fair and respectful.
(3) Social workers who function as educators or field
instructors for students shall take reasonable steps to ensure that
clients are routinely informed when services are being provided by
(4) Social workers who function as educators or field
instructors for students may not engage in any dual or multiple
relationships with students in which there is a risk of
exploitation or potential harm to the student. Social work
educators and field instructors are responsible for setting clear,
Social workers who have
responsibility for evaluating the performance of others shall
fulfill such responsibility in a fair and considerate manner and on
the basis of clearly stated criteria.
appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
(c) Performance evaluation. -
(d) Client records. -
(1) Social workers shall take reasonable steps to ensure that
documentation in records is accurate and reflects the services
(2) Social workers shall include sufficient and timely
documentation in records to facilitate the delivery of services and
to ensure continuity of services provided to clients in the future.
(3) Social workers? documentation shall protect clients?
privacy to the extent that is possible and appropriate and shall
include only information that is directly relevant to the delivery
(4) Social workers shall store records following the
termination of services to ensure reasonable future access.
Records shall be maintained for the number of years required by
state statutes or relevant contracts.
(e) Billing. -
Social workers shall establish and maintain
billing practices that accurately reflect the nature and extent of
services provided and that identify who provided the service in the
(f) Client transfer. -
(1) When an individual who is receiving services from another
agency or colleague contacts a social worker for services, the
social worker shall carefully consider the clients' needs before
agreeing to provide services. To minimize possible confusion and
conflict, social workers shall discuss with potential clients the
nature of the clients? current relationship with other service
providers and the implications, including possible benefits or
risks, of entering into a relationship with a new service provider.
(2) If a new client has been served by another agency or
colleague, social workers shall discuss with the client whether
consultation with the previous service provider is in the client?s
(g) Administration. -
(1) Social work administrators shall advocate within and
outside their agencies for adequate resources to meet clients?
(2) Social workers shall advocate for resource allocation
procedures that are open and fair. When not all clients? needs can
be met, an allocation procedure shall be developed that is nondiscriminatory and based on appropriate and consistently applied
(3) Social workers who are administrators shall take
reasonable steps to ensure that adequate agency or organizational
resources are available to provide appropriate staff supervision.
(4) Social work administrators shall take reasonable steps to
ensure that the working environment for which they are responsible
is consistent with and encourages compliance with the NASW Code of
Ethics. Social work administrators shall take reasonable steps to
eliminate any conditions in their organizations that violate,
interfere with, or discourage compliance with the code.
(h) Continuing education and staff development. -- Social work
administrators and supervisors shall take reasonable steps to
provide or arrange for continuing education and staff development
for all staff for whom they are responsible. Continuing education
and staff development shall address current knowledge and emerging
developments related to social work practice and ethics.
(i) Commitments to employers. -
(1) Social workers generally shall adhere to commitments made to employers and employing organizations.
(2) Social workers shall work to improve employing agencies'
policies and procedures and the efficiency and effectiveness of
(3) Social workers shall take reasonable steps to ensure that
employers are aware of social workers? ethical obligations as set
forth in the NASW Code of Ethics and of the implications of those
obligations for social work practice.
(4) Social workers may not allow an employing organization?s
policies, procedures, regulations, or administrative orders to
interfere with their ethical practice of social work. Social
workers shall take reasonable steps to ensure that their employing
organizations? practices are consistent with the NASW Code of
(5) Social workers shall act to prevent and eliminate
discrimination in the employing organization?s work assignments and
in its employment policies and practices.
(6) Social workers shall accept employment or arrange student
field placements only in organizations that exercise fair personnel
(7) Social workers shall be diligent stewards of the resources
of their employing organizations, wisely conserving funds where
appropriate and never misappropriating funds or using them for unintended purposes.
(j) Labor-management disputes. -
(1) Social workers may engage in organized action, including
the formation of and participation in labor unions, to improve
services to clients and working conditions.
(2) The actions of social workers who are involved in
labor-management disputes, job actions, or labor strikes shall be
guided by the profession?s values, ethical principles, and ethical
standards. Reasonable differences of opinion exist among social
workers concerning their primary obligation as professionals during
an actual or threatened labor strike or job action. Social workers
shall carefully examine relevant issues and their possible impact
on clients before deciding on a course of action.
§30-30A-5. Social workers? ethical responsibilities as
(a) Competence. -
(1) Social workers shall accept responsibility or employment
only on the basis of existing competence or the intention to
acquire the necessary competence.
(2) Social workers shall strive to become and remain
proficient in professional practice and the performance of
professional functions. Social workers shall critically examine
and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work.
Social workers shall routinely review the professional literature and participate in continuing education relevant to social work
practice and social work ethics.
(3) Social workers shall base practice on recognized
knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to
social work and social work ethics.
(b) Discrimination. -- Social workers may not practice,
condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination
on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex,
sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief,
religion, or mental or physical disability.
(c) Private conduct. -- Social workers may not permit their
private conduct to interfere with their ability to fulfill their
(d) Dishonesty, fraud, and deception. -- Social workers may
not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty,
fraud, or deception.
(e) Impairment. -
(1) Social workers may not allow their own personal problems,
psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse or mental
health difficulties to interfere with their professional judgment
and performance or to jeopardize the best interests of people for
whom they have a professional responsibility.
(2) Social workers whose personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health
difficulties interfere with their professional judgment and
performance shall immediately seek consultation and take
appropriate remedial action by seeking professional help, making
adjustments in workload, terminating practice, or taking any other
steps necessary to protect clients and others.
(f) Misrepresentation. -
(1) Social workers shall make clear distinctions between
statements made and actions engaged in as a private individual and
as a representative of the social work profession, a professional
social work organization, or the social worker?s employing agency.
(2) Social workers who speak on behalf of professional social
work organizations shall accurately represent the official and
authorized positions of the organizations.
(3) Social workers shall ensure that their representations to
clients, agencies, and the public of professional qualifications,
credentials, education, competence, affiliations, services
provided, or results to be achieved are accurate. Social workers
shall claim only those relevant professional credentials they
actually possess and take steps to correct any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of their credentials by others.
(g) Solicitations. -
(1) Social workers may not engage in uninvited solicitation of
potential clients who, because of their circumstances, are
vulnerable to undue influence, manipulation, or coercion.
(2) Social workers may not engage in solicitation of
testimonial endorsements, including solicitation of consent to use
a client?s prior statement as a testimonial endorsement, from
current clients or from other people who, because of their
particular circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence.
(h) Acknowledging credit. -
(1) Social workers shall take responsibility and credit
including authorship credit, only for work they have actually
performed and to which they have contributed.
(2) Social workers shall honestly acknowledge the work of and
the contributions made by others.
§30-30A-6. Social workers' ethical responsibilities to the social
(a) Integrity of the profession. -
(1) Social workers shall work toward the maintenance and promotion of high standards of practice.
(2) Social workers shall uphold and advance the values,
ethics, knowledge, and mission of the profession. Social workers
shall protect, enhance, and improve the integrity of the profession
through appropriate study and research, active discussion, and
responsible criticism of the profession.
(3) Social workers shall contribute time and professional
expertise to activities that promote respect for the value,
integrity, and competence of the social work profession. These
activities may include teaching, research, consultation, service,
legislative testimony, presentations in the community, and
participation in their professional organizations.
(4) Social workers shall contribute to the knowledge base of
social work and share with colleagues their knowledge related to
practice, research, and ethics. Social workers shall seek to
contribute to the profession?s literature and to share their
knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.
(5) Social workers shall act to prevent the unauthorized and
unqualified practice of social work.
(b) Evaluation and research. -
(1) Social workers shall monitor and evaluate policies, the
implementation of programs, and practice interventions.
(2) Social workers shall promote and facilitate evaluation and
research to contribute to the development of knowledge.
(3) Social workers shall critically examine and keep current
with emerging knowledge relevant to social work and fully use
evaluation and research evidence in their professional practice.
(4) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research shall
carefully consider possible consequences and shall follow
guidelines developed for the protection of evaluation and research
participants. Appropriate institutional review boards shall be
(5) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research shall
obtain voluntary and written informed consent from participants,
when appropriate, without any implied or actual deprivation or
penalty for refusal to participate; without undue inducement to
participate; and with due regard for participants' well-being,
privacy, and dignity. Informed consent shall include information about the nature, extent, and duration of the participation
requested and disclosure of the risks and benefits of participation
in the research.
(6) When evaluation or research participants are incapable of
giving informed consent, social workers shall provide an
appropriate explanation to the participants, obtain the
participants' assent to the extent they are able, and obtain
written consent from an appropriate proxy.
(7) Social workers shall never design or conduct evaluation or
research that does not use consent procedures, such as certain
forms of naturalistic observation and archival research, unless
rigorous and responsible review of the research has found it to be
justified because of its prospective scientific, educational, or
applied value and unless equally effective alternative procedures
that do not involve waiver of consent are not feasible.
(8) Social workers shall inform participants of their right to
withdraw from evaluation and research at any time without penalty.
(9) Social workers shall take appropriate steps to ensure that
participants in evaluation and research have access to appropriate supportive services.
(10)Social workers engaged in evaluation or research shall
protect participants from unwarranted physical or mental distress,
harm, danger, or deprivation.
(11) Social workers engaged in the evaluation of services
shall discuss collected information only for professional purposes
and only with people professionally concerned with this
(12) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research shall
ensure the anonymity or confidentiality of participants and of the
data obtained from them. Social workers shall inform participants
of any limits of confidentiality, the measures that will be taken
to ensure confidentiality, and when any records containing research
data will be destroyed.
(c) Social workers who report evaluation and research results
shall protect participants' confidentiality by omitting identifying
information unless proper consent has been obtained authorizing
(d) Social workers shall report evaluation and research
findings accurately. They may not fabricate or falsify results and
shall take steps to correct any errors later found in published data using standard publication methods.
(e) Social workers engaged in evaluation or research shall be
alert to and avoid conflicts of interest and dual relationships
with participants, shall inform participants when a real or
potential conflict of interest arises, and shall take steps to
resolve the issue in a manner that makes participants? interests
(f) Social workers shall educate themselves, their students,
and their colleagues about responsible research practices.
§30-30A-7. Social workers' ethical responsibilities to the broader
(a) Social welfare. -- Social workers shall promote the
general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the
development of people, their communities and their environments.
Social workers shall advocate for living conditions conducive to
the fulfillment of basic human needs and shall promote social,
economic, political and cultural values and institutions that are
compatible with the realization of social justice.
(b) Public participation. -- Social workers shall facilitate
informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and
(c) Public emergencies. -
Social workers shall provide
appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the
greatest extent possible.
(d) Social and political action. -
(1) Social workers shall engage in social and political action
that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the
resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to
meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers
shall be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and
shall advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve
social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote
(2) Social workers shall act to expand choice and opportunity
for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged,
oppressed, and exploited people and groups.
(3) Social workers shall promote conditions that encourage
respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States
and globally. Social workers shall promote policies and practices
that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of
cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence and promote
policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social
justice for all people.
(4) Social workers shall act to prevent and eliminate
domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any
person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national
origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status,
political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish a social
workers' code of ethics.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.