Fair work in the foundational economy: experiences in social care

ReportsResourcesMay 17th, 2021

This report brings together insights from employees, their representatives and employers in social care – a key foundational sector.

It finds that:

  • Workers’ experiences in social care are shaped by considerable job insecurity, primarily due to perceived arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement of the code of practice for social care workers.
  • Workers also experienced insecurity in terms of hours of work, with widespread use of bank or zero hours contracts. Many social care workers face difficulty juggling uncertain demands of work with family responsibilities.
  • Low pay was a matter of considerable concern to social care workers. Many did not earn enough for basics and had to rely either on welfare benefits or a partner’s earnings. A number of workers said they undertook work for which they were not paid.
  • Lack of sick pay was an added concern. Not only do workers who are unable to work due to illness or injury face financial hardship, some work when unwell posing risks to both themselves and the people they care for.
  • Many workers reported high levels of stress as a result of uncertainty about working hours, increased intensity of work and concerns about their safety in the workplace especially if they worked alone. Early concerns about protective equipment in the pandemic had largely eased.
  • Trades union membership is relatively low. Workers were not always aware that they could join a union and if they did, considered them too costly. Unions face difficulty organising in a highly fragmented sector, and were sometimes preoccupied representing workers at disciplinaries rather than wider issues of terms and conditions.

If the foundational economy is to be central to efforts to regenerate the Welsh economy, especially after Covid-19, then terms and conditions in social care, as in other foundational sectors, must be improved.  Greater security and more certainty about hours of work, higher pay and provision of sick pay and improved safety at work should be priorities for improvement.

Report format: PDF

Language: English

Pages: 19

Cost:  Free



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