Code of Ethics of Social Workers
30 June, 2004
The Joint Committee of the Code of Ethics and the Japanese Coordinating Body for IFSW Preamble
Being a social worker, each of us profoundly appreciate that every single person owns human dignity, worth of living, and human rights equality.
Here we make an assertion that our professional body aims to promote our social services and service users’ self-realization through developing and providing high quality individually-oriented services, supporting peaceful environment, and respecting the principles on human rights and social justice.
Having concerns under social alternation affected by social development, which would lead an environmental destruction as well as a dehumanization, we aware that our professional body is essential system in the coming well-being society. Qualified social workers, therefore, play great roles to let the community or the citizens to understand the sense of responsibility assigned to the social workers, and enlighten its indispensableness.
We regard the “Social Work Definition”(July, 2000) adopted by the International Federation of Social Workers, an organization which our social work association accede to, as to be applied in the social work practices and to give reasons for the actions taken by the social workers.
Social Work Definition (IFSW; July. 2000)
The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilizing theories of human behavior and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.
We understand that not only our responsibility covers to maintain and promote our expertise skills and ethics, but also to the service users, and expanded to the social benefit as a whole. We make this professional body to be an organization gathered by who enact and pledge themselves to the following Code.
Values and Principles
- (Dignity of human beings) Social workers shall respect all the human beings as invaluable existences in spite of various kinds of differences such as birth, race, sex, age, physical and mental conditions, religious and cultural backgrounds, social status, and financial conditions.
- (Social Justice) Social workers shall seek to realize social justice founded on liberty, equality and coexistence which are free from discrimination.
- (Service) Social workers shall serve in order to realize respecting human dignity and social justice.
- (Integrity) Social workers shall always act in sincerely manner against this Code of Ethics.
- (Competence) Social workers shall demonstrate their competence and enhance their professional skills.
① Ethical Responsibility
- (Relationships with Service Users) Social workers shall value the professional relationships with the service users at most, not be utilizing them for their vested interests.
- (Priority over the Interests of Service Users) Social workers shall consider the interests of the service users as priority when operating the services.
- (Acceptance) Social workers shall accept all the aspects of the service users while keeping out their own preconceived ideas and prejudice.
- (Accountability) Social workers shall provide necessary information to the service users properly, use understandable expressions and ensure their informed consent.
- (Respecting Self-Determination of Service Users) Social workers shall respect service users’ rights to make their own decisions, assist them in order to understand enough about their own rights and to make use of them.
- (Dealing with the Service Users with Insufficient Decision-Making Capacity) Social workers shall always protect the best interests and the rights of the service users through making the best choices whenever the users are insufficient with their ability in the process of making their own decisions.
- (Respecting One’s Privacy) Social workers shall respect the privacy of the service users at most and make sure to have consent from the users before gathering information from the relevant people and agencies.
- (Confidentiality) Social workers shall keep the information confidential whenever gaining or gained information, which should not go beyond the necessity, from the service users or relevant people and agencies.
- (Recording Disclosure) Social workers shall disclose recording documents of the service users whenever they make requests.
- (Sharing Information) Social workers shall take the best approach to respect confidentiality whenever they share information upon the service users for the purpose of supporting them.
- (Prohibition upon Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Abuse) Social workers shall not make sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse against the service users.
- (Preventing the Rights from Violation) Social workers shall advocate the service users and prevent their rights from being violated.
② Ethical Responsibility in the Social Work Field
- (Responsibility to Provide Most Favorable Service) Social workers shall demonstrate their professional knowledge and skills generously in order to operate the most favorable service.
- (Collaboration with Other Professions) Social workers shall respect other professions’ skills and collaborate with them.
- (Observance of the Code of Ethics) Social workers shall be encouraged to respect the Code of Ethics when they face dilemma between the social work fields and the ethics, they are supervised to respect the principles and observe the fundamental ideas on this Code of Ethics.
- (Improving the Social Services) Social workers shall always exam and evaluate the quality of the services and seek to promote improvement in them.
③ Ethical Responsibility to the Society
- (Social Inclusion) Social workers shall protect people from various sorts of discrimination, poverty, restraint, exclusion, violence, and environmental destruction, aiming for the inclusive society.
- (Social Action) Social workers shall take social actions by effective means strengthening the sense of solidarity among the service users and other professions in order to improve the conditions of injustices found in the society and solve problems with the service users.
- (Action to the International Society) Social workers shall take actions in an international society through making strong solidarity with social workers from all over the world for the purpose of solving the international concerns on human rights and social justice.
④ Ethical Responsibility with the Profession
- (Social Enlightenment) Social workers shall promote their social credibility, notifying the social work practices as profession, to the service users, the other professions and the citizens.
- (Prohibition of Untrustworthy Behavior) Social workers shall not take advantage of their position to act in untrustworthy manners.
- (Maintenance of Social Credibility) Social workers shall notify and enhance the other social workers to react properly when they act in untrustworthy manners.
- (Supporting the Professions) Social workers shall support their profession’s position by making the solidarity when they are criticized by unfair reasons.
- (Promotion of Professional Services) Social workers shall participate in supervision, education, and training and design the improvement in the means of supporting and promoting the professional services.
- (Duty on Education, Training and Management) Social workers shall respect one's human rights whenever they involve in education, training and management as well as to enhance better development of the profession.
- (Research) Social workers shall respect service users' human rights and ensure the ethics in every process of investigation and the research.
Process of the Project
The Japanese four major organizations of social workers(the Japanese Association of Social Workers, the Japanese Association of Medical Social Workers, the Japanese Association of Certified Social Workers, and the Japanese Association of Psychiatric Social Workers) are all affiliated with the International Federation of Social Workers, and established a joint committee in February 2003, which are to revise the “Code of Ethics of Social Workers” first adopted in April 1986, since then, the representatives of the four organizations have been working together towards establishing a new “Code of Ethics of Social Workers” in Japan by examining other Code of Ethics, such as “Code of Ethics of Medical Social Workers”(1961) and “Code of Ethics for Psychiatric Social Work Association”(1988).
The Japanese Association of Social Workers took initiative to revise the “Code of Ethics of Social Workers” on 19 December, 2000 and the Association of Medical Social Work has joined later, in March, 2001. By 5 October 2002, those three associations have hold seven review meetings and publicized “Code of Ethics of Social Workers-revising version-”on 17 October, 2002. The public comments were then asked from the relevant people and relevant conferences against this revised version of Code of Ethics. Moreover, the Japanese Association of Psychiatric Social Workers also has participated in the project of revising the Code of Ethics in 28 December, 2002. Eventually, it made a special committee, the Joint Committee of the Code of Ethics and the Japanese Coordinating Body for IFSW, to be established under agreements by the presidents of four associations.
This final draft version of the “Code of Ethics of Social Workers” was complied by the Ethical Committee, chaired by Professor Yuichi Nakamura.