COVID-19 Legal Resources

Many legal questions related to social work practice have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. These legal resources are intended to provide guidance and information to social workers as they work to support the people and communities they serve during these challenging times.

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Nothing reported here should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

COVID-19: Legal Considerations for Social Workers Resuming In-Person Services

As governments begin the process of reopening, many social workers are considering when and how to resume their own in-person service to clients. Common questions are addressed in this article from a legal perspective, along with an informed consent form, to provide general guidance to social workers. 

Social Workers' Disclosure Responsibilities During the Pandemic

Cases have recently arisen where clinical social workers have been asked to disclose the names of their clients to public health officials, to assist in tracing exposure to the novel coronavirus. The social worker’s responsibility in this instance includes aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, NASW’s Code of Ethics, and local laws including licensure rules, health care confidentiality, and public health regulations. This article discusses how these national rules are likely to apply.

Telemental Health

Telemental health is the practice of delivering clinical health care services via technology assisted media or other electronic means between a practitioner and a client who are located in two different locations. Treatment is considered to take place where the client is. With telemental health, social workers must make sure they are practicing legally and ethically; following state licensure regulations; and adhering to state and federal practice guidelines and payer contract agreements. These resources provide information relevant to social workers about telemental health.

Workers' Rights During COVID-19

Learn about key federal workplace laws protecting social workers during the current pandemic. Many of these laws have a state-law corollary, and certain areas, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment coverage, are primarily governed by state rather than federal law.

Prepared at the request of NASW and its Ohio Chapter by Jonathan Wentz, Esq. and Sarah Ingles, Esq., attorneys at the law firm of Barkan Meizlish, LLP.


The information in this website is provided as a service to members of the National Association of Social Workers and the social work community for educational and information purposes only and  does not constitute legal advice . We provide timely information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. Its transmission is not intended to and does not create a lawyer-client relationship between NASW, LDF, or the author(s), and you. You should not act based solely on the information provided in this website. Laws and court interpretations change frequently, and applicable state laws might not be addressed. Legal advice must be tailored to specific facts and circumstances. Nothing reported here should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Social workers can help curb the spread of the disease and reduce people's anxiety.

Get more coronavirus resources

COVID-19 and Immigrant Workers

AFL-CIO provides a summary of where things stand for immigrant workers with the federal COVID-19 response, and identifies priority issues to address in ongoing state and federal negotiations.

Read the AFL-CIO fact sheet