Fair pay for care workers - the London Living Wage

MJ_discussing_with_resident.JPGCare workers play a vital role - not only in the safety and dignity of the people they care for, but also in their independence; we should value that work.

At the Council meeting yesterday, Lib Dem cllr Mary-Janes Jeanes proposed fair pay for care workers – the London Living Wage and better sick pay – which Labour Council bosses voted down and blocked.

Local Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for investment in our local health and care services.

Cllr Jeanes' speech is below.

Thank you, Madame Mayor,

Many local authorities have already adopted the Ethical Care Charter, which provides a minimum baseline for safety, quality and dignity of care.  And I stress minimum baseline.

Now, currently, Merton is re-commissioning home care and, according to officers, our approach has been benchmarked against this Charter and meets 11 out of the 13 commitments.

These include such vital things as

  • ensuring that home-care workers are allocated enough time to deal with clients’ needs, including time to talk with their clients;
  • allocating the same care worker to each client, whenever possible;
  • giving care workers statutory sick pay, so that they do not feel obliged to visit clients when they are ill, thereby putting clients’ health at risk;
  • and paying care workers for their travel costs and time between client visits.

But, my concern is that two areas are not met. These are:

  1. Paying care workers the London Living Wage
  2. Coverage by an occupational sick pay scheme, in excess of statutory entitlements (ie better sick pay)

I think at we, as councillors, should insist on their inclusion as a matter of principle.

As a borough, we are committed to the London Living Wage and therefore I strongly believe that this commitment should be explicitly included. 

Is it right that care workers get less than the London Living Wage because they are employed by a contractor rather than directly by the Council?

The second commitment that has not been written into Merton’s recommissioning is the need to provide an occupational sick pay scheme to top up statutory entitlements. This would help ensure that home care workers are able to look after their own health, so that their clients’ health is not jeopardised.

As the [Labour Party] amendment states, adding these two commitments to recommissioning process come at a cost. But I believe the benefits will result in savings elsewhere:

  • Recruitment of home care workers will be easier;
  • Lower staff turnover will benefit residents and providers;
  • Residents will be able to live independently in their own homes for longer;
  • Our residents will spend less time in costly care homes – a big saving for the Council;
  • Better quality home care may lead to fewer hospital admissions, thus relieving some pressure on the NHS and more savings.

We do not accept the amendment and I hope that, even at this stage in the re-commissioning process, this commitments can be added. Let’s remember that the Ethical Care Charter aims to provide a minimum baseline for safety, quality and dignity of care. 

Please will everyone in the Chamber support the un-amended motion.

Thank you, Madame Mayor.

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