Ensure the future of the social work profession in South Africa!

We demand that the Minister of Social Development revise the salaries, safety and protective measures for all social workers rendering social work services in South Africa. Words do fall short in explaining the effects that low compensation and difficult, unsafe working conditions has on the service rendering of social workers and on the Profession as a whole. This is the reason that social workers migrate to other countries where better working conditions can be provided.  

The following demands are then made for your consideration:

  • The startup salary for all social workers, irrelevant of the employer, in a Grade 1 post should increase from R14500.00 to R18000.00 before deductions, keeping in mind that social workers have to study for a four year degree. When considering the current startup salary of the Department or the startup salary of NGO’s, it correlates with the salary of cleaners, drivers and receptionists in different Departments. This is unacceptable, considering that Social Work is a Profession;
  • The ten-year timeframe before any increment is too long. Social workers work daily in dangerous, stressful situations and the compensation should be relevant. Increment after a three-year timeframe is demanded;
  • Medical aids payout for Social Work services need to increase. The current payout is R250.00 per session vs. psychologist payouts which ranges between R550.00 – R2000.00 per session;
  • Social workers should be protected in every office. It is unlike any humane society that social workers should be abused, raped or murdered whilst rendering services to others. Every social worker should have a panic alarm is his/her office. There should be a contract between the Department / NGO’s and security companies. In the event that a social worker’s life is threatened he/she should be able to press the panic button and security companies should respond immediately;
  • Final year social work students should be able to apply for posts at the end of their midterm examinations and receive feedback from employers before the end of their final year. This will eliminate unemployment of social workers after graduation and improve cooperation between universities, the Department of Social Development and all stakeholders;
  • An annual allowance for continuous professional development (herewith referred to as CPD) to be added to every registered social worker’s salary, is demanded. The South African Council of Social Service Professions requires social workers to attend compulsory CPD Training. However, social workers has to pay for the training themselves. The fact is that just about 10% social workers attend these training due to the fact that they cannot afford it;
  • As drivers license is a pre-requisite to most of the social work vacancies, the Department of Social Development and Universities in South Africa should enter a contract where driving lessons and the acquirement of a driver’s license is part of the Social Work curriculum.  

A detailed analysis of the above mentioned points are also available.   For the sake of the clients in the communities that social workers serve, the above mentioned demands should not be denied to the deserving. The above mentioned demands should be implemented as part of a national policy which should bind all companies where social workers deliver services. Only if the above mentioned demands are taken seriously, the Minister would be able to ensure the future of the Social Work Profession in South Africa.


Vuyokazi Makapela & Luce Kleynhans    Contact the author of the petition

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