Council contracts should require domiciliary care providers to pay their staff the minimum wage, a Labour Party review of exploitation in the sector has been told.
In her submission to the review, Shereen Hussein of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London also called for “clear induction and training programmes” for all care workers.
Her report warned that close to 220,000 direct care workers are likely to be paid less than the minimum wage, equivalent to 12.9% of the entire workforce.
In addition only 68% received formal induction training and just 33% had heard of the Care Quality Commission’s Common Induction Standards.
She said that most were trained on ‘health and safety’ and ‘moving and handling’ but far fewer were trained on dementia or mental capacity issues.
There are also signs of discrimination within the sector, she warned. Research indicated that some migrant care workers, particularly those identifying as black African, experienced racist comments or behaviour from service users and, to a lesser extent, from bosses and colleagues.
Hussein said local authorities should ensure their contracts with home care providers require all workers to get the minimum wage, including payment for travel time and cost.
They should also avoid commissioning short 15-minute visits and ensure their commissioning processes reflect the actual cost of care and are transparent about how they assessed the minimum care unit price.
Labour leader Ed Miliband set up the review, headed by Labour peer Baroness Denise Kingsmill, to help develop policies that tackle the exploitation of social care workers without increasing the cost or reducing the availability of care.
The Kingsmill Review is seeking contributions on the issue until 31 March 2014.