Pay Inequality ‘Putting Care Services At Risk’

Female-dominated caring professions are being undermined by “pocket money” pay rates and high staff turnover, a report has warned. The Equal Opportunities Commission said services such as childminding and caring for the sick or elderly were being put at risk because work traditionally done by women is undervalued.

{mosimage}The report suggested stereotypical views that women are “naturally” good at caring roles were partly to blame and resulted in insufficient investment in or recognition of their skills. Staff turnover rates are particularly high in early years daycare, care staff in children’s homes, care workers in residential care for older people and home-based care for older people.

With an ageing population and more people turning to care services, the report warned: “We face a caring timebomb, where people’s expectations about the support they and their loved ones will receive won’t be met due to the traditional undervaluing of those performing these critical roles.”

Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the EOC, said: “It is time for us all to challenge our outdated perceptions of female-dominated roles. It is shocking that we still expect women who work in caring roles to work more for love than money.

“As our population ages, those of us who need more support to live independently into older age will rightly expect high-quality services. But these expectations will not be met if we continue to undervalue the skills required to do such roles, where low pay leads to high staff turnover.

“The law makes it clear that women who undertake work of equal value to men should get equal pay, but that law hasn’t kept up with the way services are delivered today, where the contracting out of services means that women work for one employer, men for another. So we want to see reform of the law to make equal pay a reality for thousands of women, on whom our public services depend.”