Children’s residential care

Members in WSCC children’s residential care homes contacted UNISON when presented with proposals to change on-call and stand-by arrangements. This would involve them having to provide on-call cover for other homes. Staff would only be granted TOIL arrangements and would receive a lower rate of on-call payment.

Under the new proposals, staff would have to deal with incidents in homes they’d been ‘paired’ with, so staff would need to also have knowledge of the young people and staffing in other homes. It would result in fewer managers on stand-by but covering more homes, which staff believe could create more safeguarding issues. Initially too many assumptions had been made without talking to staff, particularly because stand-by staff potentially could be called to respond to incidents in any home across the county miles from their current workplace.

Members rejected the proposals as they feel they are unsafe and a way of saving money rather than improving the service. Although the loss of pay is a factor, our members’ main concern is they feel the new arrangements would be unsafe for both staff and the young people who use WSCC services.

UNISON has supported affected members and made representations to the service. UNISON advised members to ‘work under protest’. This has resulted in the new arrangements being paused as the service wants to work with staff to find a resolution.

UNISON has now come to what we believe is a fair solution for members, but there is now some discussion about what mechanism WSCC will use to roll out the changes. This is a very important matter which we hope to resolve shortly.