Yesterday (23 November) a week-long government consultation into banning adult social care workers from working across multiple care settings closed. We asked our members who work in adult social care what their experiences were of having multiple jobs and/or providing agency and bank care.
Covid has highlighted that our social care system is broken. It is fragmented and largely run by private companies for profit. Care workers are under-paid and under-valued. The long term solution is for a properly funded national care service which puts people at its heart.
We are calling for a national care service based on the following five demands:
- A real living wage for all care workers, as an absolute minimum.
- A standard employment contract for care work – including sick pay, contracted hours and pay for all hours on duty, including ‘sleep ins’ and travel time.
- Significant, emergency government funding.
- Professional standards – the Care Certificate should be upgraded and expanded and professional registration should be standardised throughout the UK.
- A partnership working group of commissioners, providers, governments and trade unions must be established to action solutions.
Many of our members who work in nursing and residential homes have second and sometimes even third jobs, often because care providers will only give them minimum hours or zero-hour contracts so that the employer retains maximum flexibility over staffing levels.
Lots of our members have second jobs working for the NHS providing bank nursing care.
Under the government proposals, all these members would be legally banned from working in more than one care setting.
We heard from members who are frightened and scared about their ability to survive if they have to give up one of their jobs. They have multiple jobs because they cannot afford to live on one contract.
We are also worried about the impact that the government proposals will have on care providers and the ability to provide safe staffing levels. Agency staff will be required to have 14 days off work if they have to move between settings. Not only does this mean no income for 14 days, it will take essential care workers out of the labour market for 14 days at the height of a crisis.
Your branch has responded to the government consultation, using the experiences of our members who are working in nursing and residential homes. You can view our submission below.
If the science shows that movement of staff between care homes is a contributory factor then we would, of course, support measures that reduce the movement of staff. However, care workers are already low-paid and under-valued, and they should not be made to pay the price. As an absolute minimum any care workers who are required to turn down hours or give up a job must be allowed to access the governments Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme). This would mean that their job would be kept open for them and they would be able to receive at least 80% of their normal income.