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Fair Work in Scotland's Social Care Sector 2019

26th February 2019

Photograph of Fair Work in Scotland's Social Care Sector 2019

On 26 February 2019 the Fair Work Convention published its report Fair Work in Scotland's Social Care Sector 2019.

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

The report makes 5 recommendations including for the Scottish Government to support the creation of a new sector body that establishes minimum standards for fair work terms and conditions and to reform social care commissioning.


Fair Work in Scotland's Social Care Sector 2019

Led by Fair Work Convention members' Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland and Lilian Macer, Scottish Convenor, Unison, the Convention's 18-month inquiry involved research and extensive engagement with stakeholders including:

• research on the work and employment experiences of front line workers, personal assistants and employers from across the care sector in Scotland; and

• engagement with an expert working group and stakeholders from across the social care sector.


Fair Innovative and Transformative Work in Social Care


Personal Assistants working under SDS Option One: experiences of fair work

The inquiry found that:

• the social care sector is not consistently delivering fair work;

• the existing funding and commissioning systems are making it difficult for some providers to offer fair work; and

• the social care workforce does not have a mechanism for workers to have an effective voice in influencing work and employment in the sector.

In addition, given the predominance of women workers in the sector, the report also highlights that failure to address issues such as voice deficit and low pay will significantly contribute to women's poorer quality of work and Scotland's gender pay gap.

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

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

What is the Fair Work Convention?

The Fair Work Convention has been in place since April 2015 and acts as an independent advisory body to Scottish Ministers.

The Convention's vision is that, by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society.

Web site

The Scottish Government is to publish a Fair Work Action Plan later this week.

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