15 June 2017
The Welsh government has this week announced plans to reduce the social care sector’s reliance on zero-hour contracts.
Proposals include a requirement for employers to offer domiciliary workers the choice of moving on to a guaranteed hours contract after three months of continuous employment, and to differentiate clearly between travelling and care time when writing rotas.
People working in the social care sector are known to be among the groups particularly vulnerable to insecure work, with ACAS reporting that an estimated 50-70% of frontline domiciliary workers in England are on zero-hour contracts.
In addition, many care workers receive poor wages on the basis they are paid only for time spent in service users’ homes and not for their travel between appointments. Many employers have also been accused of scheduling visits with inadequate time for travel between them, thereby leading to ‘call-clipping’, where workers are forced to leave appointments early in order to make it on time to the next one.
The Welsh Assembly’s Social Services Minister, Rebecca Evans, said: “The proposals I have unveiled today are not only intended to offer staff a fairer deal, but also to safeguard the quality of care and support people receive in their own homes.
“Research shows a link between the prevalence of zero-hours contracts and a reduced quality of care, due to issues around the continuity of care and communication between workers and those they support.
“Requiring providers to distinguish clearly between travel time and care time when arranging services, will also improve the experience of people needing care. Doing so will help tackle ‘call-clipping’, ensuring people’s care and support time is not eroded by travel time between visits.”
A consultation into the proposals was launched on 12 June and will end on 07 August 2017.