Care sector

What are the Biggest HR Obstacles: A Perspective of The Care Sector

What are the Biggest HR Obstacles: A Perspective of The Care Sector

It has been a very unsettling few months for care providers, from BREXIT implications to COVID guidance changing regularly. New procedures have come into place, which means more paperwork and more memorising for management, larger workloads, endless lists of employee and customer concerns and compliance changing at a rapid pace. Our Senior HR advisor, Dan Williams, has listed the main people related obstacles within the care sector.

Vaccine Uptake

With the care sector at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes have been on vaccine uptake. This is why the government have consulted on making the vaccination a requirement for care home staff in England – From 11 November 2021, anyone working or volunteering in a care home will need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19), unless exempt. That leads to a long list of concerns:

  • Vaccine uptake – how can care providers boost vaccine uptake to protect patients and staff?
  • Staff retention – how can employers prevent workers from quitting over vaccines? Are there any barriers to keeping your talented employees who are not vaccinated?
  • Discrimination and legal concerns – how can employers avoid claims when applicants refuse the vaccine on medical or religious grounds? How can care providers protect themselves from discrimination or dismissal claims?
  • Employee documentation – what should care providers include in employees’ contracts? Is a requirement to be vaccinated, is this now discriminatory?
  • Workplace safety – how will employers protect employees who cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons? Care providers must consider requiring new hires to be vaccinated. And while that protects patients and staff.
  • Hiring policies – how will the employer carry out the recruitment process and check whether new staff have been vaccinated? Managing vaccines in the care industry is a tricky balancing act. While the safety of staff and patients is always the main priority, there is also the risk of legal disputes and employee retention to consider.

Low Occupancy in Care homes

Due to the devastating spread of COVID-19, death rates within care homes were the highest on record. Many families decided to withdraw or keep relatives away from care homes. As a result, care managers are now dealing with overstaffed homes. This presents a wide range of HR issues such as; flexible working requests, laying off staff and redundancy. With tough decisions ahead, care managers should seek employment law advice to do right by their staff and protect their organisation.

Moving staff to different sites

If a care home has limited residents, managers might consider moving their staff to a busier site – if they have the capability to do so. Nevertheless, managers need to add a mobility clause to their employees’ contract of employment. This allows care providers to move staff to different locations set out in the clause – within reason. If moving to a different site involves a difficult journey or affects the employee’s personal matters (like their child’s education), staff could argue that the request is not reasonable. With extra paperwork and the risk of disputes, adding a mobility clause is not always simple. Employers need to consider how convenient any new locations are, and whether this could lead to resignations or poor morale – You may even need to consult with the employees on adding new terms and conditions.

Updating Policies and Procedures

The care sector is now bombarded with a mountainous amount of new legislation, no thanks to post-BREXIT and COVID related guidance. Therefore, policies and procedures need to be scrapped and restarted or updated the existing documents, this may include:

  • Risk Assessment policy
  • Recruitment Policy
  • COVID workplace testing policy
  • COVID vaccine policy
  • Hybrid Working policy
  • Equal Opportunities Policy
  • Lone Working policy
  • Disciplinary and Dismissal Policy

… the list can go on, updating policies can never be a simple and quick task, due to several hurdles. Mainly, due to the devolution of HR to Care Managers who may not know how to keep up with the change, or do not have the resource to do so.

The Great Resignation

After a demanding couple of months, care workers are considering their options and moving with the current ‘Great Resignation’ wave, where they are considering early retirements or a complete career change. Care workers have worked consistently throughout lockdown and may have not received a furlough payment, so may feel the pressures of the world of work more than others may.

Many carers are on casual contracts, so may not always have a notice period – causing a big impact on workforce planning, leaving little time to re-recruit in their absence. No or little notice period means the recruitment process needs to be started as soon as possible. Failing that, the lack of staff impacts the quality of care that can be provided holistically.

Changes to Causal Worker Holiday Pay Calculations

Calculating zero hour and causal workers holiday pay is never simple. The good workplace was updated last year stating employers now need to calculate holiday pay based on the average pay earned over the previous year – instead of the past three months. Due to COVID, care staff, who may be on these terms and conditions, may have worked a considerable amount over the 12-month period; so this could be a costly change.

Yes, this means that fairer wages are paid to employees, yet it also means management of the extra costs – can the business afford this – and dealing with the payroll changes due to this? – is the software capable of running this change?

Mental Health and Wellbeing

The previous months have been tough on the key workers, as already mentioned. However, Care sector workers face devastation at work on a regular basis as they are more prone to seeing deaths in the workplace, due to the involvement of COVID, this has increased. This has a mental burden and adds further stressors onto the employees – people are not robots and at the end of the day and there is only so much resilience people can have towards death.

Fatigue, burnout, mental health-related absence, depression and anxiety are a few common effects of providing care in a pandemic, without actioning mental health and wellbeing provisions this could lead to poor retention, and increased turnover, low morale and low productivity.

Therefore, mental health training and awareness must be on the agenda to tackle poor signs of mental wellbeing, otherwise, an endless cycle of the above may occur; over time this can cause serious damage to an employee.

Should you wish to discuss any of these points, or you are looking to create a smooth HR operation please get in contact with the team at HPC today.

T: 0844 800 5932


Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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