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 Scottish Parliament

Regulating care and the
Social Services Workforce


March 2000
(See also submission on the Bill - January 2000)


UNISON the public sector trade union is the largest local government union in Scotland and represents not only the majority of staff employed in Registration and Inspection, but also the vast majority of the Social Service workforce in Scotland.

Accordingly we deem it absolutely appropriate and in fact necessary that we comment on the paper entitled "Regulating Care and the Social Service Workforce”.

UNISON shares the Government's objectives of ensuring improved protection for vulnerable individuals. We think that this has to be achieved without creating a system which unfairly threatens the career and livelihood of social care workers. It is therefore vital that mechanisms which ensure that staff can enter the new regulatory framework with confidence that they will be treated with fairness in circumstances which will inevitably be a cause of stress and concern to them and to all involved, are vital.

In the context of legislation and regulations laid thereafter, UNISON takes the clear view that professional and employment issues need to be separated with employment issues being dealt with in the context of an industrial relations framework and using existing machinery. This issues around the regulation and/or deregulation of social care brings in to play other legislation affecting as they might do, employment law and the civil rights of the staff concerned.

The implementation of the proposals regarding the regulation of care and of the workforce needs to be phased in. Not least because of resource implications for all concerned. Also to take account of proper service development and the very real need for staff training.

The foregoing issues might properly be addressed by the Commission and the Council being required to present an annual report to the Parliament.

UNISON now turns to the questions posed at the end of the consultative document.

Question 1 UNISON believes that a clearer definition of the range of facilities to be regulated eg. the age range and client groups covered and in terms of the types of provision, that the range would need to be specified and defined under regulation, including personal care and support to take account of the growing range of provision now being individually delivered in the community.

Question 2 UNISON believes that in order to ensure that the balance between lay members, service users and professional interests is maintained and to ensure that there are enough council members to carry out the workload, our view is that the question of the size of the council be re-examined. We are of the view that it will be very difficult to ensure that a group in the range 17-21 will be large enough to give enough flexibility to ensure that a wide range of interests are covered by the membership of the council. In this context UNISON also takes the view that the composition of the Commission, must include representatives of all the client groups and not just those representing clients' stakeholders. In this context all component parts should have regard to ethnicity not mere tokenism. Members reflecting service user interests will need to demonstrate the diversity of client groups and of the communities from which they come. As we indicated earlier, some will need to be drawn directly from those client groups, while others will necessarily come from advocacy groups whose speak for them.

Question 3 Asks about staffing issues and the future role of lay or public interest members of Inspection Teams. UNISON as the major trade union in the area and having the majority of the members being employed by the Social Care Commission, would expect that the terms and conditions of all employees affected, would be protected by a section in the legislation which would contain a proper transfer order along the lines of section 9 of the Local Government Act 1996. TUPE in itself is insufficient in UNISON's opinion to deal with the issues which arise from possible transfer. It therefore follows that proper consultation and discussion would have to take place with appropriate staff interests at the time of transfer in order that all employee issues be dealt with properly.

UNISON would expect that a high priority would be given to establishing a continuing training programme for all staff. UNISON would be particularly concerned that the Commission establish a proper induction training programme for all staff as soon as possible after transfer.

As regards a future role of lay and public interest members of Inspection Teams, UNISON would refer again to the views expressed in answer to Question 2 regarding the diversity of future lay or public interest members in that they must take account and be representative of the diversity of the client groups.

Question 4 Any definition of care services as set out in paras. 39-40 requires to be extended to include a wide age range and beyond the purely residential provision into personal care and support delivered in small units or individually in the community.

Question 5 Relates to the requirements for Registration and UNISON's view would be that the definition of a ‘fit person' is subjective and open to interpretation and challenge. As such it would be unfair to all parties. There needs therefore to be a clearer definition of ‘fit person'. In our view this might be encompassed in a code of practice. Other codes of practice might define the management systems to be used in various types of establishment.


7 & 8

Turning to issues raised in these questions, UNISON's view is that there requires to be clear and transparent processes to deal with both enforcement and appeal. When the policy statements relating to these areas are produced UNISON will comment further.
Question 11 UNISON recognises the importance of public confidence in the new bodies and that this will have implications for a single regulatory body. Again we understand that the working group will bring forward policy statements in this area and at that time UNISON would expect to comment further.
Question 13 Again refers to the membership of the Council and I would refer you to our comments at Question 2 in relation to this issue, where we indicated that the size of a Council comprising of between 17-21 people in our view might not be sufficiently representative to deal with the issues.
Question 14

Para.109 refers the operation of the Register and its relationship to other regulatory or registration bodies and to the index of unsuitable adults. This whole area would need to be fully explored and explained in the policy statement or White Paper preceding the Bill.

I refer now to issues raised in paras. 103 and 104 and again UNISON would take the view that staff safeguards are set out in our answer to Question 3, have to be built into this process. The Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations are not in our view strong enough to properly safeguard staff interests here.

Para. 105 – here the Scottish Executive needs to spell out more clearly resource implications for the establishment of the regulatory bodies. UNISON's view is that any proposal that the cost of regulation be met either partly or wholly by fees paid by regulated providers is totally unrealistic. Also in this context any fees must reflect individuals' ability to pay.

Para. 111 – UNISON is concerned at the balance of responsibility for continuing education and training presented in the report. The report needs to spell out more clearly the employers' duty in this respect. Previous Government reports including the Moodie Report, explored the need for training in this area. However the Scottish Executive has to recognise the implications for employers and the possible financial burden that could be placed on public and voluntary sectors in particular.

Para. 114 – Consideration needs to be given to an extended range of staff across residential, day care and growing area of community based provision. Clearly this will have implications for the phasing of the registration process and who might be included in the first waive.

UNISON recognises the registration process could have employment implications for staff but would re-emphasise our earlier comment regarding the necessity to separate registration and employment in the workforce. Issues not addressed properly, then the regulatory body would in our view be straying into areas of employment legislation and industrial relations matters which should be left to the direct employers rather than the regulatory body.

Para. 117 – UNISON has a number of concerns regarding the specifications in this para. First category of health – UNISON is concerned that this is extremely wide ranging and we do not understand how this might impact on an individual's ability or competence in the broadest sense. The other reference in this para. which concerns us is the unsuitability for work in social services. In our view this is entirely subjective and far too sweeping. The danger here is of inappropriate comparisons with other professional groups other than by codes drafted against different social and cultural environments.

Para. 132 – UNISON would again reiterate the need throughout this process for a properly resourced education and training for all employees concerned.

UNISON welcomes the opportunity to comment on the consultation paper. We will as indicated be prepared to comment fully on any further working papers or policy documents which arise from the deliberations of the working groups. We would welcome an invitation to address the Committee directly on this submission and of course supply any further information or evidence requested.

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