UNISON has been aware for some time about the concerns members in Children’s Services social work teams have about the size and complexity of the caseloads they hold. In a growing number of circumstances, our members believe their caseloads are unsafe.
UNISON has been working with CS management on ways to make the role more attractive and to recruit new staff to the teams. But we have specifically been pressing CS management to issue a statement for staff so there is clarity on what to do if members feel that their caseloads are unsafe. This statement was issued in a CS-directorate email from the Director Annie MacIver on 8th May:
“I am aware that practitioners in certain areas of the service are carrying higher caseloads than we would want and that these cases are increasingly challenging in terms of complexity. It is important that you feel confident in talking to the management team in your services about your caseloads so that we can take a collective approach to management of risk and also look at how we can utilise the additional CFW and administrative posts to support. If you do feel that your current caseload is too high and you are concerned about the level of risk that you are being asked to manage then please discuss with the management team within your service who will review and agree what steps can be taken to address the pressure.“
UNISON has emphasised the final sentence. We would encourage UNISON members who are at breaking point and believe their caseloads are unsafe to take up this offer.
Please alert us to your experiences in doing so as UNISON wishes to monitor the effect that these discussions have on caseloads and staff health, safety and wellbeing. UNISON can also advise members should they want, before or after these caseload discussions,
UNISON will continue to discuss at our regular meetings with Annie MacIver how this risk is being analysed, how many staff are requesting a re-evaluation of their caseloads, whether it is helping staff or not, and the solutions that are being put in place.
Career progression and annual leave
UNISON has raised member concerns about the career progression route, and how burdensome the task of preparing and presenting evidence to enable progression is. A review of these has been announced.
UNISON has also raised a number of concerns about annual leave and the difficulty in taking this before the end of the leave year. In some cases this has resulted in significant carry over being agreed, or paid at the point of leaving.