South Lanarkshire Council’s fight for equal pay for home carers continues

After a lengthy evaluation of their role and responsibilities, which included a court appeal, home care workers employed by South Lanarkshire Council are now paid the same wage as residential home workers.

Hourly wages for workers will be increased by at least £3 an hour, following a joint campaign by unions, including GMB Scotland, to fight the council’s original decision not to give carers equal pay.

READ MORE: South Lanarkshire Council workers about to file wage lawsuit

Unions won a second appeal last week and are now demanding the increase be backdated to the start of the assessment process in October 2020, in what they say will result in a bill worth millions.

South Lanarkshire Council was asked to confirm the payroll but declined to answer the question.

Home care workers rallied outside Local Council in Hamilton as GMB Scotland demanded the new hourly rate of at least £16.24 be paid retrospectively.

The municipality countered that the salary increase was contingent on the staff training for an additional qualification and therefore the workers were not entitled to a refund as they did not have the SVQ award at the time.

However, union officials argue that staff roles and responsibilities are not changing.

GMB Scotland leader Harry Scott said it was “right and fair” that South Lanarkshire Council had agreed to pay home carers the same as their peers.

However, he added: “It is also right and fair that this payment is backdated to the beginning of this process.”

“The salary calculation was based on what home care workers have been doing for years and not what they might one day do. Salary must be backdated. It’s deserved and we will fight for it.

“Our members will be happy to be trained for a new skill, but their role and responsibilities are the same today as they were when we started this process.”

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A role formerly known as “house help” has become more complex in recent years, according to the union, taking on additional responsibilities including personal care, administering medicines and medicines, and assisting with medical procedures.

Wages were not increased to reflect these additional duties and after unions twice appealed the decision to deny equal hourly rates to all carers, South Lanarkshire Council agreed to the increase.

Cara Stevenson, organizer of GMB Scotland said: “This is a significant salary award that shows the value of the work done by home carers.

“The Council needs to do the right thing now and backdate it.”

South Lanarkshire Council said the work of home carers is greatly valued and should be recognized and rewarded.

Kay McVeigh, Chief Human Resources Officer, said: “Based on additional information presented on appeal this month, the grade score improved. In addition, it was required for our home care staff to achieve the appropriate SVQ level.

“This requirement means that the increase cannot apply retrospectively to a period of failure or failure to seek that qualification.

“However, the Council will support the workforce in acquiring this important skill and will continue to upskill the workforce from April 1, 2023 rather than waiting until they complete the SVQ.”

“We will continue to discuss the outcome of the appeals process with our union colleagues.”

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