SIPTU warns of crisis due to pay disparity in public and private home care services

SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday, 21st June) warned that the disparity in pay between workers in public and private home care services is leading to a staffing crisis in the sector which is severely affecting vulnerable clients.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Flannery, said “The reality is that staff are moving from private and voluntary services to the public service as the HSE is moving to recruit Healthcare Support Assistants. Staff are voting with their feet and opting to work for an employer that provides better terms and conditions of employment. It is our firm belief that private and voluntary providers will continue to struggle to recruit if the issue of pay is not addressed.”

The warning comes on a day that the Dáil will debate a motion tabled by the Regional Group regarding the crisis in home care and shortages in home help hours. Among the measures called for in the motion is that the Government ensure that all training for people engaging in the home care industry is paid for by the State to assist private providers in replacing staff who have moved to jobs within the HSE.

Flannery said: “The ‘Report of the Strategic Workforce Advisory Group on Home Carers and Nursing Home Healthcare Assistants’ was published in September 2022 and contained 16 recommendations aimed at alleviating staffing issues in the sector. To date, the Government has only implemented one of these recommendations, which was to increase the number of work permits available for home carers to come from outside the EU to work in Ireland.

“The permits made available are for full-time positions with a minimum salary of €27,000. A Healthcare Support Assistant in the HSE can earn up to €40,738 working full-time and has access to far more favourable terms and conditions of employment including premium payments, travel and mileage payments, as well as access to a pension scheme. These benefits are not available to their private and voluntary sector counterparts in many instances.”

He added: “The absurdity of the situation is that many private and voluntary providers are contracted to provide services on behalf of the State. Yet staff are leaving these services to take up employment directly with the HSE due to the more favourable conditions of employment.”