WSCC, like many other local authorities, is facing a major crisis of children’s social worker recruitment and retention.
As well as having concerns about the impact of this crisis on children’s welfare and staff’s workloads, there is a huge extra cost to the council as they are forced to use locums. Some local councils are paying more for their staff which exacerbates the problem, as our staff move on if they can be paid more elsewhere.
At the end of April, UNISON signed off with the council a market-related supplement for children’s social work grades 9, 10 and 11. Also agreed were new career progression pathways for Grade 10 staff to move to 11 and Grade 12 practice managers to move to ‘Hay A’. This latter change has effectively introduced for practice managers the chance to be paid at Hay A, as they were prior to the last restructure.
UNISON has agreed with WSCC the framework for that career progression scheme. We have also raised with Annie McIver and her team, the need for a wider look at other factors that impact on recruitment and retention. For example, could WSCC do more around: caseloads; working proper hours with lunch breaks; TOIL and overtime; loyalty bonuses; access to paid study; use of paid sabbaticals? UNISON is in regular discussion with WSCC and bringing these ideas to the table.
Ultimately UNISON agrees that WSCC had to act to sort out its recruitment and retention issues, and still has a lot more to consider. We appreciate though that this gives little comfort to unqualified social work assistants who receive no recognition of their hard work and loyalty through this scheme, Grade 12 advanced practitioners who will not benefit and Grade 12 practice managers who will not receive a pay-rise and may not advance to Hay A. Not to mention occupational therapists or adults’ social worker colleagues who will feel less valued.
UNISON will take up the issue of non-base pay incentives with adults’ services as much more can be done to make WSCC a better place to work for everybody.
2018-19 Pay Claim
UNISON believes the NJC Pay claim for 2018/19 will be key. All staff at WSCC deserve a long overdue pay rise. We cannot afford to wait until our own particular section of staff is in recruitment crisis! All members must support the 2018/19 pay claim, with industrial action if necessary, as this is the only effective way to ensure we are all paid what we are worth.