Care workers face unfair conditions, says report

a care worker bandaging an elderly man's arm


The social care sector in Scotland is not consistently delivering fair work and failure to address this could contribute to the gender pay gap, according to a new report.

The report by the Fair Work Convention is the result of an 18-month study into the care system in Scotland. It finds the existing funding and commissioning systems are making it difficult for some providers to offer fair work and that
the social care workforce does not have a mechanism for workers to have an effective voice in influencing work and employment in the sector.

It adds that, given the predominance of women workers in the sector, failure to address issues such as voice deficit and low pay will significantly contribute to women’s poorer quality of work and Scotland’s gender pay gap.

It calls for urgent interventions by policy makers, commissioners and leaders in the social care sector to improve the quality of work and employment for the 200,000 strong workforce in Scotland.

The report reveals that some social care employees do not have secure employment and are expected to work excessive hours in order to take home a fair wage. The burden of variations in demand for social care is falling heavily on front line staff, it says, who can face zero hour, sessional contracts, working beyond contracted hours and working unpaid overtime to meet the needs of care service users.

The Convention is recommending that the Scottish Government supports a new sector-level body to ensure effective voice in the social care sector. As an immediate priority, it says, this body should establish a minimum Fair Work contract for social care, which should thereafter underpin commissioning of social care services. It adds that this sector-level body could develop a bargaining role in the sector, providing a place for designing and developing services, training and development and other workforce strategies.

The report comes after an article in yesterday’s Guardian showed a big increase in bullying in the NHS. Data shows the number of formal complaints about bullying and harassment in NHS England hospitals increased from 420 in 2013-14 to 585 in 2017-18, although only a fraction of these complaints resulted in dismissal or disciplinary action.

The 2018 NHS Staff Survey, released on Wednesday, shows a quarter of NHS staff have experienced bullying from managers or colleagues in the last year. It suggests bullying cultures are pervasive and contained worrying projections about the health and wellbeing of workers in the sector.


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