Social care, social work and the law - England and Wales
Social care, social work and the law - England and Wales

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Social care, social work and the law - England and Wales

1.4 Rights

Rights is a word that is used in different ways. Lawyers use it to indicate that a person is entitled to something, for example not to be dismissed unfairly from their job or to sue for damages if they have been sold faulty goods. Others sometimes talk of rights when they are making a moral claim, for example that they ought to be allowed to demonstrate or that a particular law is unjust or unfair. In this course we use rights primarily in the first sense, i.e. when we are talking about the actual claims that people can make of, for example, local authorities and government. However, at times we do talk of rights as moral claims, for example when service users demand a change in the law or social work practice in order for their legitimate claims to be recognised and acted upon. Legislation sets out some rights for service users. For example, service users have the right to be consulted wherever possible in decisions that affect them and their families and to be kept informed about what is happening to them. In addition, service users do have rights in the second sense of the term, for example the right to be treated with respect, in an honest, open and reliable way. Sometimes the demand to be treated in a fair manner coincides with legal requirements, for example the law's prohibition of racist behaviour and practices supports the demand that all people are treated with respect. All service users have the right to expect to be treated in a non-discriminatory way and to be informed about their rights. The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998), which incorporates the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), is important for practitioners and service users because it provides a comprehensive avenue of redress.


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