The council has signed up to a pledge saying: “The City of Edinburgh Council endorses the principles of the UNISON Ethical Care Charter and commits to working in partnership with UNISON towards its implementation.”
UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter aims to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions which a) do not routinely shortchange clients and b) ensure the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels.
Branch secretary Amanda Kerr said: “This is the first step on a long road to full implementation of the Charter. We congratulate the Council in signing up to this pledge and we know it is a tough commitment to make when the Council faces such huge cuts in its funding. However, there should be no greater priority than dignity and quality of care for those who need it, and dignity and quality of pay and conditions for those who deliver that care.”
The Charter lays out three stages in the programme. The immediate principles are that services should match need, home carers will be given adequate time to meet that need, home care workers should be paid for travel and given enough time to get from one service user to the other. They should also get sick pay if they are off.
Stage 2 of the charter calls for continuity of staff for service users, no zero-hour contracts, systems to support staff raising issues about service users’ needs and regular training.
Stage 3 calls for the Living Wage to be paid and a proper sick pay scheme “to ensure that staff do not feel pressurised to work when they are ill in order to protect the welfare of their vulnerable clients.”
Much of this has already been achieved in Edinburgh for council employed staff but the Charter seeks to extend this to all staff employed in the sector.