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Professional ethics are at the core of social work practice. The NASW Code of Ethics offers a set of values, principles and standards to guide decision-making and everyday professional conduct of social workers. It is relevant to all social workers and social work students regardless of their specific functions or settings. The NASW Code of Ethics is best described as a "living” document. With an ever-changing world serving as the context, new social developments and issues have warranted several revisions of the Code.
The Office of Ethics and Professional Review provides ethics and professional review education and training, administers the professional review process, offers ethics consultation to members, and provides information about members who have been sanctioned through the NASW professional review process. The OEPR is part of the NASW national office. The staff coordinates with and provides administrative support for the national ethics committee and chapter ethics committees.
Quick OEPR Links and Resources:
National Ethics Committee
The National Ethics Committee (NEC) is responsible for educating NASW membership and the larger professional community about standards of ethical professional practice. The committee along with OEPR staff, oversees chapter professional review activity, develops policy and procedure for professional review, offers interpretations of procedures, and provides technical assistance and training. The committee hears complaints that are designated as national cases against members who are alleged to have violated the Code of Ethics and is authorized to conduct adjudications and mediations with NASW members. The NEC hears appeals of chapter cases and oversees the development of ethics education training and programs. The NEC is composed of volunteer NASW social work members from across the United States.
Chapter Ethics Committee
The Chapter Ethics Committee (CEC) processes complaints of
alleged violations of the NASW Code of Ethics, by chapter members. It is
responsible for providing education and training to NASW members in
coordination with the NEC and OEPR. The CEC is composed of volunteer
NASW members from across the relevant state.
Current Michigan Chapter Ethics Committee Members:
Please click here to submit and ethics question to the Michigan Chapter Ethics Committee.
If you need immediate assistance please contact the chapter office at 517-487-1548.
As a service to members, the Office of Ethics and Professional Review provides ethics consultations for current NASW members. Ethic consultations are a resource for members who are experiencing an ethical dilemma. We do not provide advice or tell members what to do. However, we do guide them through the Code and point them to the areas of the Code that address their concerns. We provide dialogue and considerations that allow members to make ethical decisions. We may also refer members to the appropriate areas if their questions do not appear to be related to ethics but are more related to legal issues or standards of practice.
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Are Non-NASW Members Required to Follow the NASW Code of Ethics?
If someone violates the Public Health Code, an allegation is filed with the Bureau of Health Care Professionals. If the State believes there is enough evidence to prove that the individual violated the Public Health Code and that disciplinary action should be taken, the state will file an Administrative Complaint against the health professional.
Practice outside of the “scope of social work values, ethics, principles, and advanced skills” could constitute a violation of the public health code:
“A licensee shall not perform an act, task, or function within the practice of social work unless he or she is trained to perform the act, task, or function and the performance of the act, task, or function is consistent with the code of ethics for social workers.”
Therefore, since the NASW Code of Ethics is recognized and accepted by the profession as the “code of ethics for social workers,” then a violation of the NASW Code of Ethics would amount to a violation of the Public Health Code according to the Bureau of Health Care Professionals.
Short Answer: Yes, all social workers must adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics.