Fall 2021

Reporting Obligations: Misrepresenting Professional Qualifications

What does it mean when a social worker or social service worker misrepresents their professional qualifications?

According to the Professional Misconduct Regulation, under the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, a social worker or social service worker misrepresents their professional qualifications when they commit one or more of the following offenses:

  • inappropriately uses a term, title or designation in respect of the member’s practice;
  • fails to identify themselves as a social worker or social service worker to a client when providing social work or social service work services;
  • fails to advise the College promptly of a change in the name used by the member in providing or offering to provide social work or social service work services; or
  • uses a name other than the member’s name as set out in the register in the course of practising the profession. Note: A member may use another name if it is necessary for personal safety, the member’s employer and the College have been made aware of the pseudonym, and the pseudonym is distinctive.

“In Ontario, it is illegal for a social worker or social service worker to misrepresent their professional qualifications,” said Richelle Samuel, the College’s Director, Complaints and Discipline. “The College is serious about its public protection mandate and members who misrepresent their professional qualifications could be subject to disciplinary action which may include, but is not limited to, a reprimand, restrictions on the member’s certificate of registration, or a suspension or revocation of the member’s certificate of registration.”

Mandatory reporting obligations for employers

To protect the public from unqualified, unfit and incompetent practitioners, employers of social workers and social service workers have a responsibility to be aware of, and comply with, the College’s mandatory reports process.

If an employer terminates the employment of a social worker or social service worker for reasons of professional misconduct – including the misrepresentation of professional qualifications – they are required to file a written report with the College Registrar, known as a mandatory report. An employer must also file a report if they intended to terminate the member’s employment, but the member resigned before they could do so.

For more information on the mandatory reporting process, please visit the College website.