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Complaints

Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures

NB: In these procedures, all words importing the masculine gender shall include the feminine gender.

1. Acts Liable for Disciplinary Action
1.1 A RSW-P, RSW or RSSP commits an act that is liable for disciplinary action if he:
  1.1.1 breaches or violates the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) Code of Professional Ethics of Social Workers adopted by SWAAB or commits misconduct or neglect in any professional respect;
  1.1.2 has obtained registration by fraud or misrepresentation;
  1.1.3 without reasonable excuse, refuses or fails to respond in writing or attend before a disciplinary committee either as a witness or as a subject of complaint or inquiry; or
  1.1.4 has been charged or convicted in a court of law in Singapore, or elsewhere, of any offence which may bring the social work profession into disrepute and/or when such an incident is not reported to SWAAB within one month of its occurrence.
 
2. Filing of Complaints
2.1 All complaints must be lodged in writing by a complainant by filling in the Complaint Form. The document shall contain the name, NRIC number, contact address, email address, telephone number and signature of the complainant. Anonymous and verbal complaints will not be considered. The Complaint Form shall also require the complainant to declare and consent to the following without which the complaint will be dismissed:
  2.1.1 that all the information provided is true and correct to the best of his knowledge;
  2.1.2 that his identity and all the information provided by him in relation to the complaint will be disclosed to the person(s) complained against in order for the latter to respond to the complaint;
  2.1.3 that relevant extract/s of the complaint may be shared with the employer of the person(s) complained against;
  2.1.4 that the information provided will be used by SWAAB or its committee for the purpose of investigation;
  2.1.5 the provision of additional information in writing and/or in person at an inquiry. If it is in person, the inquiry will be audio recorded; and
  2.1.6 that SWAAB’s decision is final.
 
3. Authority for Dealing with Complaints
3.1 The complaint received will be referred to SWAAB if the complaint is lodged against a RSW-P, RSW or RSSP, in which case, the procedures stated herein will apply. The complaint will be referred to SASW if the complaint is lodged against a social worker or social service practitioner who is not accredited but who is a SASW member. If the complaint is lodged against a social worker or social service practitioner who is neither accredited nor a member of SASW, the complainant will be advised to refer his complaint to the employer of the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP complained against or the parent statutory board or ministry overseeing the employer.
 
4. Referral of Complaints to Preliminary Investigation Committee
4.1 Complaints addressed to SWAAB will be submitted for initial consideration by the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) comprising four members from a panel appointed by the board. One of the four members must be social work trained. The PIC members for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019 are A/Prof Seng Boon Kheng, Ms Morene Sim, Mr Alvin Chua and Dr Calvin Ho.
 
5. Assessment of Complaints
5.1 Based on the information available in the complaint lodged, the PIC shall decide on one of the following courses of action:
  5.1.1 No further action is required on the complaint;
  5.1.2 Refer the complaint to SWAAB to appoint a Disciplinary Committee (DC) to inquire into the complaint; or
  5.1.3 Collect further information from the complainant or other sources before deciding on any of the above.
 
6. Dismissal of Complaints
6.1 The PIC may decide that no further action is required on a complaint if it is satisfied that the complaint was made under any one of the following conditions:
  6.1.1 the incident which is being complained about had occurred more than two years preceding the date on which the Accreditation Secretariat received the complaint, unless there are special reasons for the delay. However, this will not apply if the complaint matter is a civil or criminal offence awaiting legal settlement;
  6.1.2 the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP being complained about, was not accredited at the time when the incident occurred; 
  6.1.3 the complaint is made anonymously;
  6.1.4 the complainant cannot be identified or traced; 
  6.1.5 the subject of complaint has ceased to be a RSW-P, RSW or RSSP;
  6.1.6 the complaint has previously been inquired into and SWAAB has decided that no further action was required; 
 

6.1.7

the complaint matter is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or is not made in good faith; or 
 

6.1.8

for any other reason that referring the complaint to a Disciplinary Committee (DC) appointed by SWAAB is unnecessary.

 
7. Investigation by the Disciplinary Committee
7.1 Should an investigation into the complaint be necessary, SWAAB shall appoint a Disciplinary Committee (DC) from a pool of qualified individuals to conduct a full inquiry into the complaint.
7.2 SWAAB shall at the same time write to the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP under complaint to request for a written response to the complaint. The written response will be tabled together with the complaint to the Disciplinary Committee at its preliminary meeting for assessment and investigation.
7.3 Members of the DC shall be allowed to disqualify themselves from the inquiry at any point in the proceedings should there be a conflict of interests. However, a member who declares that he knows the complainant or RSW-P, RSW or RSSP complained against will not automatically disqualify him from being appointed on the DC.
7.4 The complainant and the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP under complaint shall be given opportunity to present their case with supporting evidence, which can be in written form. Any other witnesses may also be invited to testify in person or in writing. Written consent will be obtained from the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP under complaint or witnesses for the inquiry session to be audio recorded. The RSW-P, RSW or RSSP under complaint shall be entitled to:
  7.4.1 inquire into all evidence produced;
  7.4.2 examine any witness, documents or other evidence produced; and
  7.4.3 call any witness and produce any documents or other evidence.
7.5 At the conclusion of the full inquiry, having considered all the evidence submitted and any other relevant information available, the DC shall conclude on either of the following:
  7.5.1 the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP is not guilty of committing a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics of Social Workers or an act of professional misconduct, in which case the complaint will be dismissed; or
  7.5.2 the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP is guilty of the allegation of a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics of Social Workers or professional misconduct, in which case an appropriate action will be recommended.
7.6 The DC shall submit its findings and recommendation to SWAAB for consideration.
 
8. Decision by SWAAB
8.1 SWAAB, after considering the recommendation of the DC, the reasons, evidence and all relevant circumstances in support of the recommendation, may decide to:
  8.1.1 endorse the recommendation of the DC; or
  8.1.2 refer the complaint back to the DC for further investigation; or
  8.1.3 not endorse the recommendation of the DC and implement other measures instead.
8.2 The quorum shall not be less than one-half of its members and the Chairman shall have a casting vote.
 
9. Disciplinary Actions
9.1 Where SWAAB has decided that the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP complained of has committed a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics or an act of professional misconduct, and depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence, it shall take any one or more of the following actions:
  9.1.1 withdraw the accreditation status of the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP permanently and remove his name from the Register;
  9.1.2 withdraw the accreditation status of the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP for a period of time as SWAAB deems fit and remove his name from the Register during this period;
  9.1.3 issue a written reprimand to the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP;
  9.1.4 instruct the Chairman or a member of the Board to orally admonish the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP;
  9.1.5 instruct the Chairman or a member of the Board to issue a cautionary advice orally to the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP to take corrective measures to improve himself; and
  9.1.6 take any other actions as the Board deems fit.
 
10. Notification of SWAAB’s Ruling
10.1 After SWAAB has reached its decision on whether or not the RSW-P, RSW or RSSP has committed the alleged act of a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics of Social Workers or professional misconduct and neglect, the Accreditation Secretariat shall inform him in writing of SWAAB’s decision and any other instruction, which shall be delivered in person or by registered mail to his home address as kept in the Register.
10.2 A written copy of SWAAB’s decision and the reasons shall also be delivered to the complainant in person or by registered mail sent to his contact address as indicated in the complaint form.
 
 

Accreditation Secretariat, SASW
Tel: (65) 6778 7922    Fax: (65) 6778 0609
Blk 324 Clementi Ave 5   #01-209
Singapore 120324




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