Zero hours and domiciliary care workers

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Slides presented by Jill Rubery from Manchester Business School at the Resolution Foundation event A Matter of Time: The rise of zero-hours contracts. For more information see the full report available at
  • 1. Zero hours and domiciliary careworkersJill RuberyManchester Business School
  • 2. Zero hours as a cornerstone of independent domiciliary careproviders’ (IDPs’) fragmented time employment practicesDominance of zero hours• 69% of independent domiciliary care providers (IDPs) onlyoffered zero hours contracts to care staff ( 17% mixed-mainly for TUPE transferred staff or reward for ‘drivers’-only 13% any guaranteed for all)Zero hours as cornerstone of fragmented time• No guaranteed hours , no continuous paid work periods– staff bears loss of clients– unpaid breaks (88%)– Unpaid travel time (81% time not paid)• Control over schedules– Volume of work depends on flexibility– Constant requests for cover (new cases/ absences)
  • 3. Experience of workVolume of working hours• Most work relatively regular and often long hours- more aboutcontrol than major swings in work loads• But bear risks and costs of changes in client mix/ clients notrequiring care of prescribed lengthLength of working day versus paid work hours• Many start early- by 7am – finish late 10pm- with multiple breaksin-between• 7 day and 6 day working is common• No or very short minimum work periods• Travel time unpaid especially under electronic monitoring• Even when on unpaid breaks under pressure to accept new work• If provide more care then specified results in unpaid time
  • 4. Some care worker time schedules• I’ve been up every morning for, tomorrow morning will be my ninthmorning up at half five in the morning, so I’m wanting to go to bed onSaturday morning and not have an alarm clock waking me. (ON.Dom1.Care Worker 3)• I work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I work half a day. Then Fridayand ... Saturday, I work half a day on Sunday. *I start+7 o’clock. *I finish+10pm. [Interviewer: Sometimes do you work all the way through?]Yes. Because I don’t drive, so most of the time is spent in the buses.(XD.Dom2. Care Worker 3)• Well, I normally work Tuesday eight o’clock in a morning till twelve, then Ihave a break for about three hours, then I’m back out three till half ten.But the three till half ten I have an hour and a half break in between thatas well. And thats Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday I start at half seven andfinish at half ten. And Wednesday is eight till twelve o’clock. (IL.Dom1.Care Worker 1)• Twelve days on and two days off. I do eight till two and the four till ten.(IL.Dom2.Care Worker 3)
  • 5. Some care worker expereiences• It’s the time in between, because we spend time going toservice users. So you spend, I walk so I spend a lot of timewalking to everyone, almost, like yesterday I finished atthree and I started at eight, I think. I was out yesterday forsix hours but I’m only getting paid for three hours of work.(RNDom2 Care Worker 4)• I’ve been doing six and seven days a week with her, so I’m abit like that. So when she goes*into a home+ that’s twentyhours that I will lose, so you know, things slot in again, youknow, it’s moving all the time, it changes. So it’s a bit …(RNDom2.Care Worker 2)• I don’t make them flustered, I just take my time and dowhat I have got to do. Then it rolls into our time. (IL.Dom2Senior Care Worker1)
  • 6. Origins of fragmented time practicesDirect link to Local Authority commissioning• Only pays for direct face to face contact time ( reinforced when usingelectronic monitoring)• Low margin over NMW reinforces lack of scope to pay for travel time (higher fee sometimes paid in rural areas rather than direct payment fortravel time)• Often no continuity of payment even for clients on short-term respite/hospitalisation• Commissioning in short task specific visits (often 15 minutes) – may notreflect client’s needs• Shifting of risk from LA to providers- and then form providers to workers• Providers seem reluctant to respond to individual LAs improvingcommissioning practices- either because may not last or because ifnational or local chain may not want to face pressure for generalimprovements in pay and conditions
  • 7. Risk shifting: from LA to provider to care staff• The council have told us that they’ve pretty much run out of money,which means almost no new care packages are putting through andevery time a client needs an increase they’ll say no. Which means,for example, we have a client who is a double up one hour in amorning, she needs an hour and a quarter, it’s taking the carers anhour and a quarter because they can’t leave her without care butit’s making them run late, and they’re spending time there thatthey’re not being paid for, and they ask us, ‘Why are you not payingme for this time I have to spend with this client?’ And we don’thave an answer. We as a company, as a business, cannot pay themfor that time but the council can’t agree it, and we can’t leavesomeone without care. (RN.Dom2,Care Coordinator)• If it’s because somebody’s gone into hospital or respite orsomething like that, then the carer just has to deal with it. If it’sbecause the whole care package has ended then the coordinatorswill find other work to try and fill the gap. (Manager RN.Dom1)
  • 8. Outcome is persistent staff shortages but lack ofmechanisms to resolve problems• Average staff turnover of 31% but also difficulty in retention of newrecruits.• 69% short of staff for weekend and unsocial hours / 43% sometimes putup with poor performance due to shortageDomiciliary care system surviving by:• Reliance on dedication of staff ( although insufficient numbers)• Tolerance of not being paid for all time worked• Unmet care needs• Individualised adjustment to schedules to help retain staff (but outcomeis that new staff have to provide flexibility and leave)Lack of long term solutions due to:• Care budget squeeze and lack of defined responsibility for employmentpractices• Lack of client/consumer power• Tolerance of zero hours for regular staff under employment law.
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