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The Big Sleep-In Shift Pay Debate

The Big Sleep-In Shift Pay Debate

Sleep-in Shift Pay Survey

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As a new force in the social care staffing sector, the team here at Outt.com is always happy to question the status quo when something doesn’t feel right, especially with our people-first ethos.

One such debate has arisen around fixed-rate pay for sleep-in shifts and the question of whether this outdated practice is the right one for social care, which is already one of the lowest-paid sectors in the UK.

Here we take a look at the current law and why strong objections exist – backed by the statistics that contradict the calls for the conventional fixed-rate pay structures to stay the norm.

SOCIAL CARE PAY DEBATE: THE BASICS

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this issue, it’s essential to work through the facts behind the debate to ensure everybody gets a clear picture.

There is little doubt that social care workers are underpaid when compared to national averages, the sad truth!

Here are a few pieces of data from Skills For Care’s Workforce Intelligence report, looking at the adult social care industry:

  • 73% of care work professionals are paid less than the Real Working Wage.
  • Median hourly rates in 2019/20 were £8.50 – lower than cleaners, hairdressers, kitchen assistants, launderers and retail staff.
  • 35% of care workers are paid on the ‘wage floor’ – meaning the legal minimum.
  • Before the change in National Living Wage, 58% of salaries in care work would have fallen below the minimum hourly rate.

Those statistics are tough to hear – but perhaps not shocking, given that there have been desperate staff shortages in the social care sector for many consecutive years.

Resolution Foundation backs up these figures, having reported back in 2015 that pay for care workers had been illegally cut short to the tune of £130 million.

In 2013-14, around 11% of social care jobs had been paid unlawfully low wages and were not compliant with national legislation.

Given our passion for the welfare of our outstanding social care workers, every Outt.com candidate is directly employed by us, with full employee rights.

We feel that it is our responsibility to stand against the widespread practice of underpaying and undervaluing essential care workers, who so often support the most vulnerable.

Our minimum hourly rates, across the board, £10 an hour – without compromise. #fairpayforsocialcare

 

Pay Structures for Social Care Sleep-In Shift

Let’s explore the reality of working a sleep-in care shift and what this everyday occurrence for social care professionals involves:

  • Sleep-in shifts rarely involve sleeping – care workers are required to keep out a ‘listening ear’ for problems and be prepared to respond to emergencies and needs for care every second of the night.
  • Being on shift means being on call, and so a worker on a fixed rate could be woken multiple times in the night, potentially with zero additional pay.
  • In many cases, care needs overnight can be critical, and so a sleep-in shift might involve dealing with serious medical issues or service user distress. In this instance care workers then have to fight for the correct pay.

In our view, a sleep-in shift is not a period of work that should be paid anything less than a generous increase against standard hourly rates.

Our reasoning considers working unsociable hours, disruption to normal sleeping patterns, the stress and pressure involved with covering critical instances, and the impact on staff overall health when they lose out on invaluable rest and recovery.

It’s hard to imagine that any other work sector would entertain the idea of asking staff to work overnight, sometimes in life or death situations, and pay them less than the already low average rates.

Outt.com recognises that sleep-in shift placements carry the potential for unfair pay, and therefore avoid offering these shifts where possible to protect the wellbeing of our candidates. They are essential in some circumstances, but we try and educate the client as much as possible.

Yet, the courts have upheld what many consider a systematic abuse of worker rights.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that care workers required to work sleep-in shifts – whether voluntary or mandatory – were not entitled even to receive minimum wage for hours on duty.

Sleep-in Shift Pay Survey

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Why Sleep-in Shift Pay Demands Further Examination

There are so many parts to this issue.

Still, industry leaders must recognise the disparity here. This practice has great potential to cause long-term damage, not just to workforce recruitment figures and staff retention but also to standards of care.

The case recently debated in the courts was around a care worker being paid £30 for a nine-hour shift, between 10 pm and 7 am the following morning.

It’s hard to justify why that isn’t criminal – and how it is legal to offer a pay rate of under £3.33 per hour, and yet here we are.

These are the facts, as we see them:

  • Fact: social care workers are among the lowest paid in the country, across any industry.
  • Fact: National Minimum Wages should be the lowest any worker can be paid for any employment. Therefore, this ruling seems to breach fundamental employment rights and contradict employment law.
  • Fact: the fixed-rate paid for a sleep-in shift is up to the employer, even though there could be limitless call outs and disturbances every night on duty.
  • Fact: sleep-in carers are rarely paid anything in addition to this flat rate, regardless of how challenging a shift they have needed to cover.

As Clare Tomlinson-Blake quoted the BBC following the outcome of the Supreme Court decision:

“Staff are constantly on guard to protect the most vulnerable in society. The sound of a cough in the night could mean someone’s in danger.”

The problem here is that employers are assigning this role to low-paid workers, who are already in critically short supply.

Social care workers are being asked to fill a position that could genuinely be the difference in whether a patient, loved one, or care home resident lives or dies – and paid astonishingly low rates for that responsibility.

The Courts conclude that care workers are ‘not actually working during their sleeping hours.’

They say that the staff sleeping quarters are those they are ‘permitted to use for sleeping’ and that staff will only be paid for work ‘when they are awake for working’.

However, we don’t think we’re stating the obvious when we suggest that most of us would not be prepared to spend nights away from home, in workplace sleeping facilities, for any reason other than to be ‘working’.

 

The big question is – where do we go next?

To effect real change, we need to raise industry expectations.

  • We need to improve the average pay rates of social care placements.
  • We need to demand that the skills, care and professionalism of social care workers are NOT the only employment area nationwide where less than minimum wage is legally allowed.
  • We need to take the time to understand the reality of sleep-in shifts and the long-term impacts on staff mental health and wellbeing.

Over to you!

Outt.com would love to hear what you think. We have launched an anonymous survey, open to both employers and workers, to help us understand honest market opinion and the competing factors at play.

It matters because leading from the front is always empowered by the need from the workforce – and learning from the experiences of real people in real-life scenarios is the only way to paint a bigger picture of what’s going on here.

Please take a few minutes to participate in this project; even if you disagree strongly with the Outt.com team, we’re always open to making space for alternative opinions!

For the time being, if you are struggling with any aspect of social care employment and want to find a better way, we’re here for you.

Outt.com is the fastest-growing Care Jobs Marketplace for a reason – because we care deeply about driving forward the social care industry and making life better for everybody.

And we believe it’s time for a change.

Book Your Coronavirus Vaccine

Book Your Coronavirus Vaccine

As the vaccination programmes roll out across the UK, it’s essential for all social care staff, in any role or position, to ensure they take up their frontline entitlement to receive a jab.

There are still millions of fantastic care workers working tirelessly in the community to support the most vulnerable, who have yet to protect themselves.

The programme’s scale has inevitably meant that GP services have missed out some social care staff who might be working right on the frontline.

In some cases, that may be because agency care workers and non-clinical staff, might not be flagged on databases as a frontline worker.

Yet, these critical employees have just as urgent a need to be vaccinated given the higher-risk workplace and the potential risk to vulnerable residents or patients.

OUTT would like to remind all of our brilliant candidates and applicants that they are first in line for a vaccine and should go right ahead and make an appointment at their earliest convenience!

Vaccine Eligibility – The Rollout Process for Care Workers

There has understandably been some confusion since the government guidelines advise to wait to be contacted before coming forward for vaccination.

This isn’t a case of any candidates or groups being overlooked, but more the unprecedented breadth of the task. With 28 million people now vaccinated (mar21), it’s a triumph for the NHS and yet a massive test on GPs and other primary care providers!

NHS guidance confirms that the following groups are immediately eligible for vaccination:

  • Carers who are the primary carer for a high-risk person.
  • Workers in care homes.
  • Frontline health workers – including clinical and non-clinical roles.
  • Frontline social care workers, including registered professionals, residential care workers and outreach staff working with patients in their homes.

All of these groups can book a vaccination slot at their nearest centre through a local pharmacy offering jabs or other NHS services in your local area.

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How To Book a Care Worker COVID-19 Vaccination

If you fall into any of these groups and need to book yourself an appointment, you can:

  • Visit the NHS online booking system.
  • Select your nearest vaccination centre – that might be at a pop-up venue such as a community hall, at a local hospital, through a clinic, or at a pharmacy.
  • Choose from the dates and times available.

Note that you can book both vaccinations simultaneously and be allocated an appointment for your second dose, usually within 11-12 weeks.

Your appointment is confirmed by text message or email, and you can take this with you to evidence your booking.

Should you not have online access or have any problems with the service, you can call NHS England via 119, and they will make the booking for you. This phone service is available between 7 am and 11 pm, every day of the week.

You can also contact your GP practise if you can’t find any suitable vaccination appointments, and they may be able to assist.

Please don’t delay, and ensure you take up the opportunity to safeguard your health and that of your patients just as soon as possible!

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Coming Back to Social Care After a Break

Coming Back to Social Care After a Break

Returning to any career after some time away can feel massively daunting!

The world of social care has innovated and flexed in the past few months. As a result, there have been substantial employment drives to recruit experienced staff to help fill these vital vacancies.

OUTT.com has been leading this movement as a social care recruitment specialist, appointing thousands of trained care workers or new candidates.

Care work is an outstanding career opportunity, with demand and progression routes far above most other employment industries. It’s also an invaluable sector, in good times or bad, so it offers long-term job security that we all aspire to.

Still, knowing all the benefits and what you can do to kick-start your social care employment after a break are two different things!

We’ll provide some advice and resources available to refresh your skills, update your learning, and find fast-track employment options with immediate placements available.

How to Return to Social Care After a Short Pause

There are all sorts of reasons you might be looking into social care jobs – some of the typical scenarios include:

  • Having faced redundancy and looking for more stable employment.
  • Returning to the sector after years away in another career.
  • New candidates looking for care work as a first step on the career ladder.
  • Medical professionals seeking more flexible working opportunities.
  • Social care staff that have taken a break to raise children.

The best way to get back into the swing of things depends on how long that break has been.

If you’ve had a short hiatus, you’re likely in a great position to dive back in and can register with OUTT.com and start browsing through the shift vacancies immediately!

However, it’s also crucial to ensure you feel ready and aren’t concerned that policies or practices have changed.

Knowledge is power, so being prepared is ideal for making sure your new career path goes to plan.

Integrating Back to Social Care Through Support Roles

Should you want to ease yourself back in gently, there are all sorts of options.

Perhaps you’d like to consider different roles within a caring environment. Remember that your experience and skills are equally valuable across the sector, so you don’t necessarily need to work with direct patient care if you’d like some time to adjust.

There are thousands of vacancies in care work support staff, and if you’ve been away from social care doing a different job, you might have picked up some new knowledge that would make you a great fit.

To explore some of these options a little further, please visit OUTT.com.

We provide an overview of each type of social care work environment, with information about the kinds of roles available, such as:

Alternative social care jobs include catering staff, activities coordinators, administrative support, maintenance roles, and managers – so you’re not restricted to looking for vacancies in the specific position you filled before.

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Updating Social Care Employment Skills After a Career Break

Another common scenario is when a care professional has been away for some years.

There is more demand than ever for excellent social care workers, so don’t ever feel that because your skills are a little rusty, there won’t be hundreds of available placements.

We’ve touched on the need to have personal confidence in your abilities. Should you have been away from social care for several years, it can be worthwhile to access training to ensure you’re entirely up to speed with any changes in the interim.

OUTT.com offers full PAYE employment benefits, with the backing of a qualified team of social care recruiters – and the resources you need to get your certifications up to date.

The OUTT Academy is free of charge to all candidates, without a catch!

From our perspective, it makes sense! We offer free qualifications and accreditations across the board.

In return, we provide a pathway for experienced care workers to return to the sector where their skills are so vital and ensure they have great rewards and consistent pay rates, so it’s worth sticking around.

 

OUTT.com Free Social Care Training Courses

To clarify, we’re kind of like an agency, but better. Our candidates are paid a baseline minimum of £10 per hour for any role in any placement.

Candidates pick and choose their shifts, leave ratings for employers, and accumulate their testimonials and feedback to assist in ongoing career progression.

The Academy is packed with resources, recognised qualifications and training modules to ensure you have everything you need to step back into the world of social care. Courses available include:

  • Understanding Learning Disabilities for Social Care Professionals
  • Falls Prevention for Social Care Settings
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Information Governance (including GDPR)
  • COVID-19 Safety Awareness
  • Epilepsy Awareness
  • Mental Wellbeing at Work
  • Dementia Care
  • Understanding Mental Health Conditions

These are a snapshot of the skills hub courses available!

We also provide social care blogs and news updates covering everything from legislation changes to advice for safe working, government guidelines to improving your commute to work.

This learning Academy aims to support all social care professionals, including:

  • People returning to the workforce after long or short breaks.
  • Care workers looking to improve their skills.
  • Professionals seeking career development opportunities.
  • Those who would like to enhance their CV to find more flexible roles.
  • Staff that wish to build on their experience and gain new qualifications.

Whether you’ve been away from care work for years or have been a social care professional for a great deal of time, it is always beneficial to access free training resources and ensure you’re entirely up to date with sector guidance.

For more information about OUTT.com social care employment, our Academy, or any of the courses listed above, simply register online – and let’s get started!

Your social care career is under your control, so if you’d like to spend some time studying before you pick which vacancies you’d like to apply for, that’s up to you.

All OUTT.com training modules are available through any Internet-enabled device, offering total flexibility over how, when and where you decide to refresh your knowledge.

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.

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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

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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.

Winter Safety Tips for Care Workers

Winter Safety Tips for Care Workers

As we dive into the depths of January, and the mercury dips ever lower, it is vital for care workers to consider their safety and wellbeing.

Not only are frontline key workers dealing with all the challenges of providing outstanding care throughout a global pandemic – but are also faced with sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice and freezing fog!

Here we’ll run through our advice to take good care of yourself throughout your shifts, from safe travel to proper winter nutrition. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so it’s important to put your health at the top of your priorities, to make sure you can keep providing your essential services to your residents and patients when they need you most.

Care Workers Winter Dress Tips

You don’t need us to explain that care shifts can be diverse and varied.

There is every possibility that you work in several different care homes or facilities. Outreach social care staff also need to visit people in their own homes, or at community hubs, and in some cases, it’s quite challenging to predict where you will be required!

The best way to deal with this is to dress appropriately; if you prepare for the worst and need to take off a few layers, it means that you’re fixed to handle even the coldest of days.

  • Keep spare clothes with you, at your desk, in your bag, or the car so you’ve got layers on hand if you need them. Think gloves, a hat, scarf and spare socks (damp, cold feet can cause a tremendous amount of discomfort!).
  • Layer up, with lots of fabrics to trap warm air close to your body. Yes, you might have to shed a jumper here or there during the day, but it’s best to have a back up if you find yourself needing to head out at short notice.
  • Wear sensible shoes. If you live for a pair of glamorous heels, you can still bring them with you! Nevertheless, if you’re de-icing a car, waiting for a colleague or need to walk outdoors in potentially icy conditions, having a decent grip will keep your feet firmly beneath you.

Particularly at this time of year, the weather can change its mind at a moment’s notice.

We’ve all gone off to work in the gloriously crisp winter sunshine, only to head home in a blizzard, so it’s best not to rely on the weather report alone, and to have a contingency plan.

Think Warm Nutrition for Cold Work Days

The next recommendation we’d make is to consider your lunch.

We’ve all worked a shift where there isn’t time for a proper sit-down, or when we need to grab a snack quickly. But, if you’re on your feet all day and encountering cold temperatures, you do need to pay attention to your body and refuel when required.

Having something warm, even if it’s a thermos of coffee or an insulated soup container, means that you can restore your core temperature if you’ve needed to travel on a snowy day, and can do wonders for your energy and morale as well as your health. Don’t leave it to chance. If a snowstorm does hit, there is no telling what the roads might look like, or how long a queue you might end up in, so having something warming with you saves being caught out in potentially risky situations.

Delays to public transport are very common in snow and ice, and if you do end up waiting for hours to get to your destination if you’ve got food with you, you’re going to find the experience a lot more comfortable!

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Charge Your Mobile and Bring a Power Bank

Next up, let’s think about the absolute worst-case scenario! You’re heading home, but there is a mass exodus with everyone trying to get back before the roads ice over.

There is a massive queue for the train, the buses are running nightmarishly slow on freshly gritted roads, or public transport services are suspended without notice due to dangerous travel conditions. In any of these situations, or if you find yourself locked out or stranded in icy weather, you need your mobile to call for help, let your shift manager know that you’re running late, or give a home care patient a ring, so they’re assured that you are on your way.

You’ve got a few options here:

  • Charge your mobile before you head out for the start of a shift.
  • Bring a charger with you (with a plug adapter if you use a USB charger, as not all staff rooms will have the facilities to charge on a USB adapter!).
  • Invest in a power bank as a back up if you’re out and about, and your battery starts to run down.

Always check your battery before you head out the door, and spend a few minutes waiting to have a decent charge before starting your journey.

Bring Your Own Supplies

Now, it might sound like we’re preparing for a six-foot snowstorm the likes of the UK rarely sees, but the reality is that cold weather can be harsh, and sudden.

We’re not suggesting you bring a tent, foil blanket and snowshoes with you to work every day, but it is well worth thinking about what you sling in your bag so that you’re not putting your health at risk if you do have a busy day of appointments, or know that you’ll be leaving work in cold, dark conditions.

If you usually bring a small bag with you, we’d suggest upgrading that to a backpack. They are easier to carry, don’t put a strain on your shoulders, and have more capacity to bring extra layers, a bottle of water, and perhaps some reading material if you do end up with a long wait ahead.

There are some small, light things you can stash away that will be invaluable in an emergency!

  • A small torch is an excellent idea if your road is iced over and you need to walk in the dark.
  • Hand warmers are a great way of keeping your fingers or toes warm.
  • Some energy gels or dextrose tablets will help give you a boost if public transport isn’t running, or you can’t get a cab from the station and find yourself with a long slog home.
  • Spare cash is a good plan should the train stop running – most taxis these days have snow tyres, and contactless payment machines and are pretty reliable. Still, if you’ve got a bit of cash as a backup plan, you won’t find yourself stranded.
  • Socks are a must-have, and when the buses are packed, or running very late, it’s essential to keep your feet warm, particularly if you do need to walk.

We hope these suggestions are useful – and please remember that even if a light dusting of snow is forecast, if you end up needing to make your own way home, have a busy day of client appointments lined up, or are likely to be spending a good chunk of your shift outdoors, being prepared is essential!

Transport conditions can change without warning if roads haven’t been gritted, so making a few provisions will make a big difference in your safety, wellbeing, and comfort.

If you’re at all concerned with the weather, lack of transport options, or managing to negotiate your shift in snow and ice, always get in touch with your immediate manager to ensure you’ve got everything you need.

Above all, stay safe out there!