Recruiting social workers from developing countries to the UK is immoral, according to social care experts.
Jackie Loffell, advocacy co-ordinator at the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society, said councils should not exploit developing countries by recruiting staff for the UK.
South African social work was in crisis, Loffell said, with too many staff leaving and fewer trainee recruits.
"While I believe South African social workers must be at liberty to apply for position in other countries, it is immoral for organisations serving first-world countries, and especially government structures in those countries, to actively recruit social workers here," she said.
Loffell said poaching staff from overseas was "contrary to the ethos of the social work profession", Personnel Today's sister publication Community Care reports.
The government is in the process of drawing up a code of ethics on overseas recruitment for councils.
It is estimated that almost 4,900 overseas social workers registered to work in England from April 2004 to April 2006.