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In The Eye of The Storm: Do Agency Social Workers Need More Protection?

World - Agency Social Workers are being recruited to help fight Covid-19. But do recruiting authorities need to be more active in protecting their agency workforce?

The lure of working as an agency of Locum Social Worker sounds appealing. The ability to earn more money, short-term contracts. Not having to get embroiled in the politic or culture of organizations.

Yet with the clear increased need for Social Workers due to Covid-19, many authorities are looking to recruitment agencies to support filling the gap.

Working for an agency can be an appealing prospect for many social workers. Attractive hourly and daily rates of pay can be misleading, however, as the benefits of variety and independence can be offset by the fact that most receive no sick or holiday pay.

In the UK, agency social workers have been left out by the government furlough scheme. For those needing to work, some local authorities have begun to offer contracts which will pay agency workers at their full hourly rate in the event that they get sick with Covid-19 during the time they are working with them.

This progressive thinking demonstrates positive regard for the importance of agency social workers and perhaps a deeper understanding that it is envisaged that Social Workers will get sick in the pursuit of their employment.

Whilst employed social workers will still be paid at full rate in the event of sickness, the reality is that agency social workers would only be entitled to statutory sick pay in the event that they become ill during the time they are working.

Should agency workers consider asking for increased hourly rates to off-set the risk of becoming unwell? That could be one way of workers safeguarding against the increased risk of loss of livelihood and still being able to offer support. One solution could be that more employing agency agrees to terms which cover the workers in the event that they get sick on their watch.

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