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Government Guidelines for Social Care Workers this Winter

Government Guidelines for Social Care Workers this Winter

While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across the nation, the effect on our care sector has been profound. Social care workers may be first in line for vaccinations as front line key workers, but there is still a vital need to protect employees and contingent workers, and halt the virus’s spread.

Workforce managers in care homes and social care organisations have a challenge in the year ahead with the IR35 reforms, and resultant changes to managing agency staff. Still, there is no doubt that having skilled professionals on hand to cover for specialist needs, holiday cover, and urgent shifts will always be in high demand!

The government has created a policy paper called the ‘COVID-19 Winter Plan 2020 to 2021’. This document looks at staff planning, safety guidelines and best practise to keep social care workers and the people they care for, safe.

Let’s run through the key information you need to know to be prepared for these recommendations, which are likely to become hard and fast rules!

Managing Care Home Agency Staff According to New UK Guidance

So, the primary takeaway is that employers should try to avoid moving staff between different care home facilities as far as they can.

Vulnerable residents are far more susceptible to serious illness as a result of the virus. This guideline is intended to limit how staff move between different social care settings, to have consistency within the workforce. Therefore, if an outbreak does occur, it will be more limited to within a smaller number of settings, rather than being exposed to multiple organisations.

As a social care manager, reliant on agency staff to plug those all-important workforce gaps, this presents a bit of a puzzle!

  • IR35 nurses may fall into the new off-payroll working classification. Social care employers will likely be reluctant to commit to fixed, regular hours for the same agency nurses for fear of inadvertently breaching the new employment rules.
  • Agency staffing needs are often urgent and with very little notice, for example, if a team member becomes ill, and a shift needs covering immediately.
  • Requirements vary – if a resident requires a specific treatment or level of care, a contingency professional might be a far more affordable option than employing regular staff with a particular skill set.

The only way to comply with the new winter working guidelines and balance your staffing needs against your budgets is to plan as effectively as possible.

Employers Find out more

How can OUTT make a real difference?

Balancing a Care Home Staffing Strategy with Pandemic Safety in Mind

While the recommendations are to secure agency workers exclusively for your care home, OUTT recognises that this guidance conflicts the IR35 rules. It is essential to work with a fully IR35 compliant agency who offers full PAYE employment benefits to every registered social care professional!

The advice is to:

  • Work on forecasting to predict required agency staff, in which roles, for how many shifts, and for how long.
  • Look ahead for at least a few months. The guidelines currently cover ‘winter’ very broadly, but as we can’t know when the pandemic restrictions will be safe to lift, it’s best to build in a contingency.
  • Pre-book agency staff as required, and try to coordinate teams so that the same care home professionals work together on the same shifts.

Appointing agency staff for fixed shift patterns, permanent work, or a long-term shift rota could cause issues if that worker falls under the IR35 rules. That might mean you are legally obliged to take them onto your PAYE payroll, even if they don’t wish to, with a cost increase of up to 30%.

OUTT is on hand to offer a workable solution to help you meet the IR35 rules, and the winter working safety guidelines, without compromising your staffing strategy or your budget – get in touch for more information about how this works.

We offer employers a rating system, whereby you can report back about agency staff performance, and candidates can build up a portfolio of testimonials, skills and qualifications. If you need to pre-book skilled care home staff for the coming months and need confidence that you’re able to rely on your agency workers to deliver to the highest standards, sign up as an OUTT employer to get started!

How to Guard Against COVID-19 Infections in Care Home Settings

With the best planning in the world, we all know that it is impossible to be 100% certain about how staffing requirements will look in a few weeks!

There could be changes to pandemic safety guidelines, members of the team may need to self-isolate or take time off with illness, or demands for staff to patient ratios might change. That in mind, the critical controls to prevent the spread of Coronavirus remain of significant importance:

  • Staff to patient ratios are imperative. Care levels demand a requisite number of trained professionals and HCAs, and therefore agency staff are still permitted on an ad hoc basis as required.
  • Asking agency workers to provide a COVID-19 test before beginning a shift is a control measure in addition to seven-day testing cycles for all care staff.
  • Workers should change into their uniform on arrival, and wash that uniform, including any reusable protection items after every shift, on a hot wash.
  • Agencies should not book shifts for the same worker in two locations on the same day, to ensure that there is less risk of a care worker bringing the virus from one setting into another.
  • If an agency care home employee has been working at a home where there has been a virus outbreak, they should leave it at least 14 days before accepting a shift at another facility to ensure they are not a carrier.

With vaccination programmes rolling out, many frontline care staff may have had their first injection. However, since we cannot yet know how that will impact our ability to carry or spread the virus, having a vaccination does not eliminate the need for ongoing safety controls.

The government guidelines talk about exclusive contracts and recommend increasing employment levels to ensure you have adequate shift cover. Still, we acknowledge that this depends very much on staffing budgets, occupancy levels and pressure on your existing workforce. Usual measures such as medical-grade PPE, restrictions on visitors and movements, routine testing and enhanced hygiene and cleaning procedures remain essential.

If you need any advice about structuring agency care home staff around these new winter working guidelines, please contact the OUTT social care recruitment team. We offer cost-effective fixed agency rates, full IR35 compliance, and a network of highly skilled, and employer rated social care professionals with our support with compliance at every step of the way.

 

2021 Minimum Agency Rates and National Living Wage – The Facts

2021 Minimum Agency Rates and National Living Wage – The Facts

Living wages, page freezes and the cost of living have all been high on the agenda this year – as many frontline social care workers face heavier demands and are recognised as imperative to the nation’s health.

However, it’s well worth thinking about how your agency hourly rates stack up, and whether the contingency staff you rely on are being paid fairly…

Because it’s a question, many organisations rarely have time to think about, and could make a massive difference to your staff retention stats!

In this article, we’ll review:

  • The true cost of PAYE employment (and why it’s so much more than an hourly rate of pay!).
  • What it means to be a minimum wage organisation.
  • How the real cost of living compares to the UK minimum rates.

Add in IR35 to the mix, and 2021 looks likely to be a year when we all take a moment to think harder about equality, parity and the welfare of our teams, and in no sector is this so crucial as in social care.

UK Hourly Social Care Rates of Pay: The Breakdown

First off, let’s check out the figures. In April 2021, the National Living Wage increases, by 2.2% or £0.19 per hour.

That includes a new provision for workers aged 23 to 24, whereas currently, you fall into a lower pay band if you are between 21 and 24 (the highest National Minimum Wage at the moment applies to workers who are 25 and over).

Why does that matter so much to care homes and social care employers?

Because most agency staff who work in the care sector are over 23, and therefore it’s likely that some of your contingency staff are being paid at the bottom of the scale.

The National Living Wage is the minimum you can pay somebody, which has applied to anybody aged 25 or older in this past year. Now, the new pay scales apply that living wage to everybody from age 23 and above.

Here is a quick illustration of the 2020 hourly minimums, and how they’re changing in April:

Employee Age National Minimum Wage April 2020 - March 2021 National Minimum Wage April 2021 - March 2022
Apprentice £4.15 £4.30
Under 18 £4.55 £4.62
18 - 20 years old £6.45 £6.56
21 - 22 years old £8.20 £8.36
23 - 24 years old £8.20 £8.91
25 or over £8.72 £8.91

Employers Find out more

How can OUTT make a real difference?

Now, OUTT is paving the way for a better future for social care employment, and we strongly believe in supporting our professionals and providing rewarding career opportunities.

Therefore, it’s about deciding what rate of pay is adequate to compensate our incredible candidates for the skill, compassion, expertise and diligence they bring to every shift.

And we back that up by paying a minimum, to all social care employees, across the spectrum, of at least £10 per hour – and we’d like to make it even higher!

If you’d like to learn more about whether it is possible to live a good quality of life on a minimum wage, you can check out Living Wage, who does just that.

They calculate that the UK ‘living wage’ – i.e. what you need to earn an hour to live comfortably – is £9.50. Sadly, even with this new increase, the legal minimum still falls short of that by over 6%.

How to Calculate the True Cost of PAYE Employment

Next, we’ll work through the ‘true’ cost of employment. The vast majority of social care workforce managers rely on agency staff to cover urgent shifts, holidays and illnesses or back up their teams when demand runs high.

With IR35 coming into force from April 2021, it’s more crucial than ever to assess each regular member of agency staff and bring them onto PAYE payroll if the criteria are met.

In many cases, employers and registered nurses don’t wish to do so; sometimes because of the related on-costs. In more cases, they have chosen to work flexibly to have better control over their shifts, career and working hours.

OUTT is a fully compliant IR35 employer, taking the strain away from care facilities and offering the same reliability and flexibility as a traditional agency, but with costs fixed at a static 10% to keep agency staff employed on their own terms, and reduce agency staffing costs for employers.

One of the significant issues in social care agency staffing is that there is often a distinct lack of transparency in what an agency pays the worker, and what they charge the employer. We want to change that.

Employment costs can add up to 30% to the hourly expense, with elements shown below as an example for typical care home staff based on the current average pay rate:

Role Hourly Rate Holiday Pay (12.07%) National Insurance (13.8%) Apprenticeship Levy (0.5%) Pension Auto-Enrolment (3%) Total On Costs True Hourly Cost
HCA - Days £8.72 £1.05 £1.35 £0.04 £0.26 £2.70 ££11.42
HCA - Nights £10.00 £1.21 £1.55 £0.05 £0.30 £3.11 £13.11
RGN £18.00 £2.17 £2.78 £0.09 £0.54 £5.58 £23.58
Days
RGN - Nights £21.00 £2.53 £3.25 £0.11 £0.63 £6.52 £27.52
Nurse in Charge - Days £20.00 £2.41 £3.09 £0.10 £0.60 £6.20 £26.20
Nurse in Charge - Nights £23.00 £2.78 £3.56 £0.12 £0.69 £7.15 £30.15
Role Hourly Rate Holiday Pay (12.07%) National Insurance (13.8%)
HCA - Days £8.72 £1.05 £1.35
HCA - Nights £10.00 £1.21 £1.55
RGN £18.00 £2.17 £2.78
Days
RGN - Nights £21.00 £2.53 £3.25
Nurse in Charge - Days £20.00 £2.41 £3.09
Nurse in Charge - Nights £23.00 £2.78 £3.56
Apprenticeship Levy (0.5%) Pension Auto-Enrolment (3%) Total On Costs True Hourly Cost
£0.04 £0.26 £2.70 ££11.42
£0.05 £0.30 £3.11 £13.11
£0.09 £0.54 £5.58 £23.58
£0.11 £0.63 £6.52 £27.52
£0.10 £0.60 £6.20 £26.20
£0.12 £0.69 £7.15 £30.15

So, do you really know how much your agency is paying your contingent staff?

Do you think it’s feasible that their agency commission rates include all of those on-costs that staff are entitled to?

The problem is that if an agency is charging anything below £11.42, rising to £11.68 from April, it’s distinctly possible that, either:

  • They are knowingly making a loss on each hour of employment, or,
  • Your staff are being paid beneath the legal minimum, or,
  • Agency workers are not being provided with their fundamental employment rights.

In general, we’d advise that any rate below £12 requires further investigation – particularly with regulations tightening up with the new employment laws being introduced.

What Does Being a Minimum Wage Organisation Mean for Your Care Facility?

We appreciate that for many social care employers, the news of a pay increase can feel like another pressure on a strained budget.

Still, we’re here to demonstrate that you can save a substantial amount on recruitment costs and staff training by paying your staff a fair wage!

Being a minimum wage employer, whether directly or through an agency, can cost you a lot more than 2.2% in the long run:

  • Staff who feel they are unfairly paid are much more likely to seek work elsewhere.
  • Low rates of pay can lead to low morale and a lack of commitment.
  • Workers struggling with income might find it harder to respond to urgent shift requirements or deal with any tasks that expand on their remit.
  • Productivity is proven to be higher in satisfied employees – correspondingly; low pay means lower work rates, the need to hire more staff, or pay for more hours, to complete the same amount of work.
  • Recruitment costs can be high, so replacing staff means an additional cost and time – from interviewing, advertising, reviewing CVs, training, and induction periods to ordering new uniforms.
  • Managers can struggle to continually train new team members, leading to lower skill levels, lack of sufficient training and inadequate care standards.

For OUTT, our commitment to an hourly rate of pay far above the minimum isn’t just about recruiting the best quality candidates, who want to stay with us.

It’s about long-term returns for our social care employers, who evaluate their staff and find that, the better the rewards, the better the job satisfaction, the higher the standards, the higher the skill level, and the happier the workforce.

  • If you’re not sure what your care home staff agency pays?
  • Or the rate seems to be suspiciously low?
  • If you’re concerned about your staff retention figures, and why recruitment is costing so much?

We hope we’ve given you some guidance to get to the bottom of those issues.

For more information about the OUTT way of working, and to get on board with an IR35 compliant agency who provide a best in class service for both employers and our candidates, get in touch or register today.

Reduce Agency Spend on Social Care Recruitment

Reduce Agency Spend on Social Care Recruitment

Let OUTT show you how to reduce agency spend on social care recruitment – control your agency staffing budget, reduce costs, and streamline your rota!

Agency staff are the backbone of the social care sector, providing vital support for care homes and social care organisations that need to fill urgent vacancies quickly. Contingent workers are usually able to respond fast to staff shortages, provide cover for holidays and sickness absences, and plug gaps in the workforce when crucial short staffing can be a crisis for a social care facility.

However, the costs of advertising, interviewing, recruiting and conducting right to work checks can put tremendous strain on budgets and workflows, with workforce managers struggling to keep up with demand, while retaining high standards of staffing.

OUTT aims to change the way recruitment, working, and staff retention is managed, with a new model created in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis to address the critical staffing shortages deepening across the social care sector.

Social Care Recruitment – Reduce Agency Spend

The first factor in appointing quality agency staff is in recruitment; and traditional adverts in local press not only cost a fortune, but also often fail to engage with the key staff you hope to reach.

Bland, uninspiring job adverts don’t convey the value of the opportunities on offer, and so often we work with employers who follow the same recruitment template, advertised in the same places, which hasn’t been a successful recruitment strategy for many years.

  • Digital recruitment is cheaper, faster, and more effective at reaching a younger workforce who increasingly look for job opportunities online.
  • Dynamic, exciting adverts that explain what perks and benefits you are offering are more likely to garner responses than following a traditional template.
  • Remember that your recruitment strategy is the first impression you make with potential applicants, so think about the culture of your social care organisation, and how you want that to come across to candidates.
  • Don’t make a job ad just about what you want from an applicant; explain what you are offering in return.
  • Think about your own online presence; remember that most jobseekers will research your organisation before applying!

In a sector where quality professionals and enthusiastic trainees are in high demand, you need to stand out from the competition, and leverage digital recruitment in a way that delivers the response you need, from the candidates you want to hear from.

OUTT is a next-gen recruitment app connecting skilled candidates with quality employers, to bridge the gap between workforce demand and employer engagement.

Having seen the issues with traditional recruitment, we have designed a new, digital, interactive and comprehensive app that covers every aspect of recruitment, in a contemporary and streamlined way to make advertising your shifts faster and easier – advertised directly to a pool of vetted, qualified candidates.

Streamlining Social Care Applications

Once you have addressed your recruitment strategies, the next step in finding the social care staff you need is in identifying the best way to review applications, and interview your short-listed candidates. This process in itself can be time-consuming, and again, digital innovation is the key to making the whole task faster and more effective.

Traditional social care recruitment works like this:

  • You list an ad on a jobs site, or in the local press.
  • Candidates have to email or post a CV and covering letter.
  • The workforce manager needs to manually read every application.
  • Once they have a short-list, they then need to contact each individual candidate.
  • Candidates must be invited to interview, and then the time dedicated to meeting each applicant.

When you have an urgent vacancy, or need to cover a shift now, this process is unviable, and is often an unnecessary strain on social care organisations that don’t have the spare time or resources to allocate to recruitment.

There is a different way!

OUTT offers employers a way to list their shifts, vacancies and short-term requirements digitally. Candidates receive direct access to information about the post, and this can be quickly matched with skills and qualification requirements, without the manual vetting process.

Digital application processes are faster, and more accessible to modern workforces who want a one-click solution to sending their details, and replaces the traditional use of application forms and CVs that can be extremely difficult to compare.

The OUTT app is designed for mobiles and handheld devices, and enables applicants to apply for shifts, and employers to filter local candidates and make them an offer, in just a few clicks.

Employers Find out more

How can OUTT make a real difference?

Reducing Agency Spend Budgets

Recruitment can be very expensive indeed, and when you build in the advertising costs, the time required to interview and vett candidates, and agency fees, it can be disproportionately expensive to hire agency staff. That said, short-term workers are vital to most social care settings, and so controlling those costs is essential.

OUTT offers a more cost-effective solution to traditional recruitment agencies, both streamlining recruitment and selection processes, and cutting down on the costs associated with finding high-quality social care agency staff.

  • Reach out to professional candidates for any variety of job requirements.
  • Manage your preferred candidates to choose the best applicants, and make instant offers for shift cover and positions.
  • Access live compliance documentation and receive the assurance that OUTT has thoroughly vetted every candidate, including right to work checks.
  • Upload urgent shift requirements for a rapid response from a 24/7 recruitment service.
  • Authorise timesheets digitally, reducing time, costs and paperwork.

Not only is the service cheaper, but more efficient in every way.

By harnessing digital recruitment and applications, you save on the costs of agency fees, while also cutting out the time required to review CVs, manage communications and carry out due diligence checks.

Balancing Permanent Roles with Short-Term Demand

The other essential factor when looking for social care staffing is quality.

Quality is key when it comes to excellent care services, highly trained staff, and building a reputation as an outstanding organisation. Therefore, continuity with skill requirements is vital, and can be a challenge for care home managers to balance out when looking for short-term agency staff to complement their existing workforce.

OUTT also considered this obstacle, and how we could make it easier for social care managers to find the staff they are looking for, and avoid the pitfalls involved in recruiting permanent or long-term staff who might turn out not to be the right person for the role.

Here’s how it works:

  • Select candidates who match with your requirements from our pool of applicants.
  • Offer shifts and placements quickly, with a digital offer process.
  • Review your staff, and leave feedback on their skills, competencies and work.
  • If you find the perfect person and want to offer them a permanent role, simply make the offer through the app!

This ‘try before you buy’ system and review option resolves the challenge of finding the best quality social care staff; and you can assess past reviews as left by other employers before you decide whether to offer a candidate a shift.

By working with agency staff before deciding whether to offer a permanent role, you have the absolute confidence that you only take on the best long-term staff, who you already know deliver exactly the standards of care and attitude that will fit in seamlessly with your workforce.

For more information about OUTT, and how we help social care employers reduce and manage their agency spend, visit us online.

IR35 for Care Homes – Implications 2021

IR35 for Care Homes – Implications 2021

After a false start earlier this year, the new IR35 UK tax legislation concerning self-employed workers looks set to take effect from April 2021 – having been postponed more than once and this time due to the Coronavirus pandemic, look at the implications of IR35 for care homes in particular.

Given the substantial impact of IR35 for care homes, there is a great deal of concern throughout the sector about how much this change will increase the hourly cost of agency nurses, which could be as high as 30%.

The issue here is serious, since many care homes, and indeed many social care facilities, rely on contingency workers to cover staff shortages, vacancies, temporary cover and increased demand.

– So, what can we do about it?

Here, the OUTT team has clarified what IR35 means in practice, what quantifiable impacts it is likely to have, and how care home managers can prepare, and keep control of their staffing budgets.

Calculate your cost of IR35

What Does IR35 for Care Homes Mean to Staffing Budgets?

The crux of IR35 for care homes in particular, is that it sets out new rules under which professional workers can be classified as self-employed.

Other tests determine when those same workers must be treated as an employee – regardless of whether they carry out additional work, or wish to operate as a self-employed professional.

The number of registered nurses working via a staffing agency could be as many as 50%. What that means, is that many registered nurses currently working through agencies as limited company contractors may fall foul of these new rules, come next April, and be subject to tax and National Insurance deductions at source.

Not only does that affect the ability of an agency nurse to determine how they manage their shift work, with the flexibility to work across multiple agencies at the same time, but it means that payroll costs will soar for care homes.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • A self-employed nurse is employed through an agency, and chooses which shifts they accept, with full control over their career.
  • If they fall into the employment category, the care home (i.e. the end employer, not the agency) is required to pay them through PAYE payroll, applying all the on-costs that entails.
  • Care home payroll costs could increase by as much as 30% per agency nurse – inclusive of holiday pay at 12.07%, employers National Insurance at 13.8%, pension auto-enrolment at 3%, and the apprenticeship levy at 0.5%.

While it seems clear that IR35 is intended to promote the right of regular casual workers to be entitled to all the employment benefits of a full-time member of staff, it conversely has a significantly negative impact on contingency workers who wish to remain so.

Care home managers now face the challenge of navigating increased demand and a higher staff to patient ratio, with potentially disastrous budget pressure when IR35 comes into force.

Which Social Care and Healthcare Facilities are Impacted by IR35?

There are rules around which employers are required to carry out the IR35 ‘tests’.

Each contingency member of professional staff should be assessed, with an immediate switch to PAYE payroll if the rules dictated by HMRC classify that worker as employed, rather than self-employed.

Exemptions apply as below:

  • Turnover of less than £10.2 million per annum.
  • Balance sheet value of under £5.1 million.
  • Fewer than 50 employees.

Remember that these criteria apply to the end client, not the contractor or the agency, so these tests to establish eligibility apply to the care home or social care employer to whom the worker is dispatched.

The roles that are subject to IR35 assessments include registered nurses, and other professional roles – potentially inclusive of social workers and supply teachers depending on how the legislation is rolled out.

Ultimately, IR35 means that, without taking any action, care homes will need to find an additional 30% budget for agency nurses by next April, unless their agency is already billing this surplus cost.

Employers Find out more

How can OUTT make a real difference?

What can Care Home Managers do Ahead of IR35 to Protect Their Staffing Budgets?

The first action is to ensure that you are only employing agency nurses, and any other healthcare or social care professionals, through a transparent and compliant staffing agency.

While umbrella companies and agencies are familiar throughout healthcare, it is imperative that you only hire through reputable agencies and perform routine audits, to avoid inadvertently breaching the new rules and potentially being subject to steep penalties.

OUTT believes that the correct interpretation of IR35 is that this applies to all registered nurses working within care homes – regardless of the size of that care home, or ownership group.

Your next step is to assess what payroll cost hikes you are facing and to determine whether reliance on your existing agency employment structure is likely to be cost-effective in the future.

And – if not? We have a solution.

What if:

  • You could hire registered nurses; view all of their skills, experience and accreditations, through a registered agency that charges a fixed 10% fee?
  • There was a fully transparent fee structure, so you’d always be aware of the cost of hiring temporary candidates, without any nasty surprises?
  • Your agency of choice offered a completely digital interface, enabling you to vet applicants, make job offers, manage timesheet approvals, and request documentation, all from a few clicks of the mouse?
  • You could work direct with the candidates of your choice, eliminating hearsay and third party conversations.

OUTT is proud to be disrupting the framework of hiring contingent staff in the social care and healthcare sectors.

It has long been time for a change, and we leverage digital technology, and contemporary working practises to make the lives of care home managers easier, and their budgets simpler to control.

As a service designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the urgent need for social care managers to have faster, more efficient access to qualified shift workers, OUTT is changing how agency staff work, for the better.

How do we work around the IR35 regulations? It’s  straightforward:

  1. Staff are fully PAYE employed, by us, with the same access to benefits, entitlements and pay as you would expect in any permanent role.
  2. OUTT deals with the payroll, record keeping and timesheet approvals through our digital platform to save you the time, hassle and cost of doing so.
  3. We are partially funded by InnovateUK, and a registered and compliant employer thoroughly versed with the IR35 legislation, and our obligations.
  4. OUTT charges agency fees with absolute transparency and a fixed 10% cost.

How Much Could I Save on My Care Home Agency Fees for Temporary Workers?

When it comes to the crunch, IR35 is about two things – holding employers liable for providing full entitlements to their workers and collecting PAYE taxes directly from the source.

Even without the impact of IR35 for care homes, the sector is often dealing with budget pressures and staff shortages, and April 2021 looks set to cause enormous challenges for many managers.

By switching to OUTT, you have the assurance that your temporary staff are all employed, with full PAYE benefits, relieving you of any further obligation aside from concentrating on running your team.

Our new Temporary Agency Savings Calculator provides a fast, efficient way to see how much you could reduce your staffing budget by.

As an indicative example:

  • You employ a Registered Nurse through an agency at £20 per hour pay rate. Inclusive of your agency fees, taxes and additions, your actual hourly cost is £30.72 – equating to £4.85 per hour agency fees, or 21.64% of the staffing cost.
  • By switching to OUTT, you pay a fixed 10% agency rate – no quibble, no question. That makes an hourly saving of 11.64% – meaning you save a total of £2.61 for every hour you hire a temporary nurse through OUTT.
  • Over a year, if you hire registered agency nurses for 40 hours per week, for 52 weeks of the year, your budget will reduce by a whopping £5,425.89 – without changing anything, but your staffing agency.

You can try out our calculator tool to see for yourself how much you could save.

Sounds too good to be true?

It isn’t.

All we are doing at OUTT is taking best practise and tried and tested modern working methods, and applying them to the healthcare industry to demonstrate what responsible, forward-thinking and digitally enhanced agency employment should look like!

Take action today to ensure your temporary nursing requirements are booked and budgeted for, well in advance of IR35.

Social Care Employer Interview Techniques – Post-COVID

Social Care Employer Interview Techniques – Post-COVID

Interviews are a crucial part of recruitment and help social care workforce managers learn so much more about potential candidates than a CV can possibly tell them.

Face-to-face discussions allow employers to see how applicants respond to pressure, how quickly they can think on their feet, and help establish a rapport to see how well a person might fit into their team.

However, in the time of a global pandemic, personal interactions are to be avoided, particularly in the healthcare sector. Many social care recruiters are switching their interviews to digital media, which allows hiring to continue, but presents other new challenges.

We explore the best options for conducting remote interviews, and how good practise can ensure recruitment is successful.

How COVID Has Changed Healthcare Workplace Interviews

Every care home or social care setting will need new staff from time to time. Whether that is filling full-time roles, covering periods of leave, or using contingent/agency staff to fill gaps in the staffing rota.

Video calls are nothing new, but are becoming commonplace, and have changed from being the exception to the general rule.

Many social care managers are now:

  • Inviting candidates to remote interviews via platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
  • Conducting fewer interview stages to reduce the number of steps in the recruitment process.
  • Interviewing applicants individually, rather than as part of a panel of hirers.

A remote call simply isn’t the same as meeting somebody face-to-face. That said, by preparing well, we can help applicants find the experience less stressful, and employers gain the essential information they need to make a decision.

The main challenges of remote interviewing include:

  • Having fewer interview participants, and thus not having as much of balanced opinion, or not having colleagues to discuss each applicant with.
  • Not having that personal interaction with a potential employee to be able to get to know them a little better.
  • Candidates lack the benefit of being able to visit a potential workplace to get a feel for the working environment.
  • Patchy connections and time delays can make the conversation stilted and uncomfortable.

Employers Find out more

How can OUTT make a real difference?

Alternative Social Care Recruitment Techniques

As we learn new ways to communicate and carry out our daily roles, so too has recruitment needed to pivot.

One of the essential factors in smooth recruitment techniques is to consider the best way to reach suitable quality applicants, how to communicate the skill requirements, salary on offer and job requirements.

The aims of hiring a new member of staff are unchanged – you want to:

  • Attract the best possible social care talent.
  • Learn more about each applicant.
  • Deliver a pleasant experience for each candidate.
  • Find staff who fit your requirements and have the right healthcare training.
  • Explain the detail of the social care jobs on offer, and make it appealing to the right skill level.

All of these requirements can be met through digital interviews, provided some thought and planning go into how best to conduct them.

The alternatives to traditional face-to-face interviews include options such as:

  • Video interviews via Zoom, Skype, Teams, Google Meet etc.
  • Telephone interviews (being mindful that not every applicant may have access to a secure internet connection).
  • Streaming real-time workplace virtual tours.
  • Preparing candidate application packs with more information about the role and work environment that typically would have been shared during the interview.
  • Informal colleague chats – sometimes through social media or What’s App – to help applicants ask questions and meet the team.

With each of these options, the aim is to replicate the traditional interview and hiring process, whilst adhering to guidelines around reducing direct contact.

Tips For Digital Interviews For Social Care Jobs

Given that digital interviews are likely to be as new to an applicant as they are to an employer, this change is a learning curve for us all.

Here are our top tips for streamlined, well organised and smooth interview processes:

  1. Always arrange a mutually convenient time, and conduct interviews in a quiet place without interruptions.
  2. Have a list of questions ready in advance – this also allows you to consult colleagues and compile a comprehensive list of topics to discuss.
  3. Ensure the same questions are asked of every candidate, regardless of how the interview is conducted.
  4. Incorporate extra time into the recruitment schedule to allow for colleague discussions, follow-up interviews if necessary and to ensure interviews can be scheduled at the right time for all participants.

Let’s look at some of the different interview options, and best practise recommendations for each medium.

Telephone Interviews

  • Tell the applicant what number you will be calling from in advance – it is best to use a work phone number for a secure and private connection.
  • Confirm the time of the call, so that they will know to pick up. This is especially important if you use an undisclosed line, which could be mistaken for a spam call.
  • Decide how many people will be on the call, and ensure everybody has access to any conference call links you might be using.
  • Test the line before the call – nothing makes an interview more stressful than a crackling connection, a volume that is too quiet or too loud, or time lags after speaking.
  • It is best to use a landline rather than a mobile; this avoids potential connection issues or a breaking signal, and usually prevents those annoying time delays where participants can end up talking over each other.

Virtual Video Interviews

  • Whichever software or app you are using, make sure every participant has access to the programme, has it installed in advance, and has logged in or created an account ready for the interview to begin.
  • Choose the most convenient option – the most popular include Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, although there are many others.
  • If interviewing with multiple panel members, make sure you have agreed who will lead.
  • Ask all participants to mute their connection when not speaking. This prevents background noise from disrupting the flow of conversation.
  • Test the connection in advance, and always use a stable broadband connection – remote interviews via mobile are possible but can be less reliable.
  • Make sure the connection is secure for privacy and security.
  • Always have an alternative available – such as a telephone interview – as some candidates might not have access to a computer or laptop, or may not have a reliable Internet connection.

Care Home Virtual Tours

  • Offer virtual tours if possible; real-time, live streams are ideal, but pre-recorded videos are an alternative where this is not possible.
  • Ensure all staff, visitors, patients, and residents are aware of the video being recorded or streamed and do not feature anybody who does not wish to be shown.
  • Check that confidential information is not shared via a video stream; think about notice boards, paperwork, files, patient name cards on doors etc.
  • Invite attendees to ask questions, and be involved in the tour process as they would in an in-person visit.
  • Let everybody know what programme you will be using – What’s App is a popular choice. If applicants do not have access to the software or app you are using, try to offer a pre-recorded video available by other means so that all candidates receive the same information.
  • Be mindful of security, and ensure you are using a secure connection and that your virtual tour is accessible only to invited attendees.

Interpersonal Connections in a Distanced World

When it comes to social care jobs, interviews are vital to be able to get to know each applicant. Personal qualities and having a compatible team are just as important as recruiting social care staff with the right skills and training, and many of these things can’t be communicated clearly through a written document.  It is still possible to conduct engaging interviews, and deliver a positive applicant experience through virtual recruitment – and with the right planning and resources, workforces can continue to thrive.

OUTT Social Care App provides social care employers with the platform to easily fill last minute shifts, care rotas and even permanent vacancies direct with the candidate. Register with us now!

Changes in Right to Work Checks for Social Care Employers

Changes in Right to Work Checks for Social Care Employers

Social care employers are no strangers to completing thorough checks on new employees; whether permanent, part-time staff or agency/contingent workers.

The sector demands comprehensive verification processes to ensure that staff caring for vulnerable people have been thoroughly vetted.

However, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, along with sweeping financial support schemes and programmes to avoid large-scale economic disaster, the government has announced a temporary easing of right to work checks, to help social care employers streamline the recruitment process.

What Are Right to Work Checks?

Right to work checks determine that an applicant is legally permitted to carry out a job or work placement. These must take place in advance of employment beginning, and typically constitute verifying a person’s ID by analysing an official form of identification.

Before Covid-19, this process would usually involve:

  • Asking the candidate to attend a meeting in person, bringing their ID document(s) with them.
  • Having this ID matched to the applicant, and checked by an appointed person.
  • Applying for a DBS check at the same time, to verify that the person does not have any undisclosed criminal record.
  • Verifying any visa documentation required for overseas workers.

The burden of responsibility falls on social care employers; they have a legal obligation to ensure that employees are legally permitted to work in the UK.

Civil penalties can be issued against employers if they have knowingly employed an illegal worker, regardless of which member of staff carried out the check. Some employers used a third party checking service, partially to delegate the workload and partially to mitigate the responsibility.

Right to Work Checks for Applicants Without Documentation

In some scenarios, it may be that individuals are unable to prove this right.

The number of instances where this is a likelihood has increased as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic; where individuals are unable to travel, have had applications suspended, or immigration proceedings postponed.

The Home Office offers an Employer Checking Service, whereby they will verify an applicant’s immigration status if:

  • The person cannot provide documents – usually because they are pending results of an appeal or Home Office application.
  • The applicant has an Application Registration Card.
  • The candidate has a Certificate of Application issued less than six months ago.
  • The applicant is a Commonwealth citizen and moved to the UK before 1988.

It is important to note that while employers must comply with carrying out right to work checks, they must also not discriminate against any employee or potential employee.

This means giving thought to equal opportunities and offering the same process for verifying and vetting employees regardless of other circumstances.

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The Importance of Right to Work Checks in the Health and Social Care Sector

While employing legitimate staff is a priority in all industries, for jobs in care, this is even more crucial.

Every social care applicant must be verified to ensure:

  • That they are legally allowed to work.
  • That they are who they say they are.
  • Safeguarding checks have been completed for the protection of patients.
  • Any certifications or qualifications the applicant purports to have are verified.

Health and social care sectors are responsible for looking after a wide range of people, most of whom are vulnerable. It is therefore vital that any social care worker, carrying out any kind of role, has been verified before they begin work.

Depending on the role and level of check required, examples of the documents accepted as part of a right to work check for jobs in care include:

  • Passport
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Residence card
  • Immigration Status Document
  • Positive Verification Notice (from the Home Office)

Documents are categorised into different groups, and the type of check depends on the role in question. For example, an ongoing permanent position requires one right to work check before the job begins, and is not then required again.

Temporary workers may need to undergo a right to work check before employment, and again once permissions granted expire.

Alternatively, this check may need to be carried out every six months.

What Has Happened to Right to Work Checks as a Result of Covid-19?

Some of the most significant changes implemented are around social distancing, and a drive to reduce direct contact.

This means that many social care interviews are conducted remotely, and distance working practises are being implemented in roles where this is possible.

The government has announced several changes to try and streamline the right to work checks required from social care employers to help them meet the guidelines, without stalling recruitment:

  1. Checks may now be conducted via video call rather than in person.
  2. Documents are acceptable via scanned copies or photos, rather than the original being mandatory.
  3. The Employer Checking Service remains available when a candidate cannot provide acceptable documents.

Other requirements remain unchanged, including the lists of accepted documents, and the responsibility to carry out right to work checks for all jobs in social care.

Social care employers have also been reminded of the need to ensure that equal opportunities are offered to all applicants, and nobody is discriminated against because of their inability to provide right to work documentation.

The process for checks during the pandemic is:

  • Request a scanned copy or a photo of the document(s) via email or app.
  • Schedule a video call where the applicant must show the original document(s).
  • Verify the original document(s) on the video call match the scanned copies or photos.
  • Record the check made, and the date, noting that it was carried out under temporary Covid-19 rules.
  • Use the online checking service to verify Biometric Residence documents during the video call, requesting permission from the candidate to view their details.

This process is designed to ensure that remote communications replace in-person right to work checks, and as yet there is no timeline by which these new regulations will become redundant.

At OUTT we maintain the highest level of compliance especially with right to work. Our automated registration process utilises the latest technologies to verify official ID documentation, right to work status, candidate identification using biometric software and proof of address. This is just one of the reasons employers are favouring OUTT over traditional agencies.

What Will Happen to Checks Against Jobs in Care Post-Pandemic?

Right to work checks will always be mandatory, but currently, we cannot know when routine procedures will resume.

The government advises that social care employers will be notified when Covid-19 measures cease. They may then need to carry out follow-up verifications retrospectively for all employees who started work while these reduced measures were in place, or for those who needed a follow-up right to work check during the pandemic.

Although we do not yet know when the measures will end, employers have been notified that they will have an eight-week deadline to carry out these retrospective checks.

If, during a retrospective check, an employee is found not to have permission to be in the UK, or to be working, then their employment must end immediately.

OUTT Social Care App provides social care employers with the platform to easily fill last minute shifts, care rotas and even permanent vacancies direct with the candidate. Register with us now!