Alternative Futures Group is hired by 11 councils to provide care but is now pushing workers to agree to a new contract which would see sick pay axed for hundreds of staff
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One of the country’s biggest care providers is pushing some staff to sign new contracts axing sick pay. It also aims to cut annual leave and end bonuses and lieu days for working bank holidays.
Staff at Alternative Futures Group, a non-profit charity, have instead been offered a rise from £8.51 to £9.60 an hour – 10p above the minimum wage – plus a one-off £150. Union Unison blasted the deal as “savage” and paltry.
But AFG, hired by 11 councils to provide supported living care, says staff must accept the terms to stave off a cash crisis.
Some staff threatened to quit if the changes are enforced. It means staff on an average £17,374 a year among the 1,500 workforce would lose £334 a week sick pay.
They would have to rely on the statutory £96.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told us: “We are on national minimum wage and many would have to work through illness without occupational sick pay. It puts service users at risk too, especially in a pandemic.”
Merseyside-based AFG also wants to end paying up to double time on bank holidays and time off in lieu.
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The loss of two days’ annual holiday leaves staff with the legal minimum of 28 days’ paid annual leave.
Another worker who did not want to be named added: “The one thing everyone asked for was to keep a proper sick pay scheme.
“I’m not signing the contract, I’ve worked for AFG more than 10 years but they don’t value us. Many colleagues feel the same.”
The union Unison said the deal equated to a loss of £1,200 per year for each worker.
North West regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “It is a savage attack on the workforce and will impact people with disabilities and underlying health conditions. It could put service users at risk if staff have to work while ill.”
AFG said changes to sick pay would only affect workers who joined more than two years ago.
It said it was “committed to improving workers’ living standards”.
Director Kirsty Muldoon said: “We are fully supportive of the improvement of pay for workers in health and social care, and that’s what we’ve managed through this change programme. Our benefits have been better than market rates and we have sustained them as long as we could.
“Most staff have signed. We are writing to councils to pay us rates that would allow us to fund occupational sick leave.”
Our Stop The Care Crisis campaign calls for an immediate government review into pay, bringing carers into line with similar NHS roles.