Unions and employers reject single pay scale for social workers

Unions and employers have ruled out a single national pay scale for social workers in England in order to avoid a "silo mentality of separate services"....

Unions and employers have ruled out a single national pay scale for social workers in England in order to avoid a “silo mentality of separate services”.

The Local Government Employers, Unison, Unite and GMB recommend that job evaluation schemes should be updated to reflect a new career development structure being developed under the Social Work Reform Programme.

Unlike teachers and NHS staff, who have their own national pay scales, social workers’ pay is calculated by individual councils using grading systems for all local government workers.

The decision to retain the existing framework was outlined in an interim report of a working group of employers and unions. This was set up as part of the reform programme to establish how progression grades can be built into local government pay schemes.

The group backed the new career development framework, which includes several new positions including probationary social workers taking a compulsory assessed year of practice, licensed social workers, and senior licensed social workers. A new role of “advanced professional” is among the three most senior grades, alongside practice educators and social work managers.

Councils should “take a fresh look at roles and scoring”, the report said. It added that more work was needed to produce “benchmark job profiles” and revised job evaluation scores to take account of these roles and that of “assistant practitioners”, and the overall cost of the re-grading exercises.

But it warned against creating a national pay scale for the social work profession.

“Single status [pay] is a major building block for the integrated and continuously improving provision of services to local communities,” the group said. “If different groups split away from the core workforce, we are much more likely to see a return to the silo mentality of separate services which was so damaging in the past.”

The final report of the Social Work Task Force found some job evaluation exercises had “under-rated” social workers’ knowledge and skills which led to them being paid less than comparable professions.

The taskforce called on employers to review their job evaluation of basic grade social workers to ensure that their knowledge and skills are being fairly rewarded.

Related articles

Senior social workers’ pay falls short

Social Work Task Force – what the final report means to you

External information

NJC interim report on the recruitment, retention and career progression of social workers

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