As confirmed by Nicola Sturgeon in a recent speech, there is a commitment between the Scottish Government and Local Government to pay adult social care workers in Scotland the ‘real’ Living Wage from 1st October 2016.
The Living Wage is currently set at £8.25 per hour, and will apply regardless of the worker’s age. It is not the same as the National Living Wage, which was introduced as a legal requirement from April 2016 for all workers who are aged 25 and over. The Living Wage is not a specific legal requirement but employers can voluntarily sign up to it and pledge to stick to the yearly increases which are considerably higher than the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wages set by the Government.
Despite the fact that it is not required by law, the Scottish Government has entered into an agreement with Local Government to ensure that all adult social care workers will receive £8.25 per hour from October. The Living Wage will increase in November 2016 but there will be no need for care employers to increase pay as part of the commitment at this point; they can still pay at £8.25 per hour.
This commitment specifically applies to care workers providing direct care and support to adults in care homes, care at home and housing support settings (as per the Scottish Social Service Sector report on Workforce Data). This covers all purchased services, including specialist support services such as those for people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health difficulties and substance misuse issues.
Personal assistants are not explicitly covered by this requirement but guidance suggests that it may be possible for these workers to complain of unequal treatment or discrimination if they do not receive £8.25 per hour from their employer.
Care Sector Lead Consultant, Lorna Stafford commented “It is important to realise that it isn’t possible to reserve any part of a tendering scoring exercise specifically for payment of wages above the legal minimums and so paying the Living Wage will not play a part in tenders. However, a contracting authority may take account of fair work practices, which could include the payment of £8.25 per hour.”