Contract

“In this section we will explain the different contracts and how they can benefit you, where you are accountable to your contract and where your employer is accountable to you.”

Here you can find the information you need to choose the right contract for you, one that will suit your home life and well-being. You will find information on what to avoid when looking at a contract. What your employer can expect from you based on your contract. How and why to not go outside of your contacted job role for your safety and the safety of the service users in your care. 

We also provide government guidance on different types of parental and dependency leave and what your rights are as an employee.

Zero Hour

The zero hour contract could suit you if:
 
Pros: 
– You have a young family and need flexibility.
– You are claiming benefits or universal tax credits.
– You are in college or university studying. 
– You are a Carer outside of your employment.
– You do not require overtime – you are under no obligation to take over time.

Also consider these: 

Cons: 

– You will not be entitled to extra benefits such as a pension. 
– You are always on call and may get offered shifts last minuet. 
– Restrictive lifestyle waiting for shifts. 
– No fixed income wages will fluctuate with hours.
– No Statutory Sick Pay
– Effect social life awaiting for shifts to become available.
– No guarantee you will get the shifts that become available.
  

If these considerations suit you then you can use the zero hour contract to your advantage. Flexibility can allow you to remain in your job role and eliminate stress and pressure which will contribute to Actively Raising The Standard Of Care.

We advise you: before signing anything, read the contract given by your employer and also read Zero hours contracts: guidance for employers and Acas Guidance. Be sure to check your employer accepts a union. After this, if you are unsure about anything in your contract please contact ACAS for free and instant advice on 0300 123 1100
 
Over the years there has been a lot of negative attention surrounding the Zero hour contact. Although you will not be guaranteed a certain amount of hours please rest assured that within this industry there are plenty of hours for everyone, due to the high demand and need for healthcare assistants, holiday and sickness cover required and the high turnover rate among healthcare assistants. The employer is not legally bound to give you the hours but on the reverse of this, you as an employee are not legally bound to take the hours especially if they do not suit you. Be aware that employers can and will try and make you work hours that do not suit you on this contract, they can tell you that you have to. You don’t have to. Zero hours means Zero hours.
business, signature, contract

Part time:

 The part time contract could suit you if: 
 
Pros:
 
– You are a single parent family and have children in school.
– You are claiming universal credit.
– You do not require overtime – you are under no obligation to take over time.
– More Free Time to Pursue Other Projects and Activities.
– Opening Doors to New Job Opportunities.
– Time to study and progress in job role.
– Reduced Stress Levels and Improved Health.
– Family can be prioritized.
 
Also consider these:
 
Cons:
 
– You may not be entitled to benefits such as sick pay.
– You will accumulate less holiday/annual leave than your full time colleagues.
– You may be asked to swap or pick up shifts by management or colleagues.
– You will have to attend staff meetings on your days off.
 
A part-time worker is someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker. A full-time worker will usually work 35 hours or more a week. A part time contract can be a great contract to be on as it still gives you the flexibility to manage other commitments you may have. This contact will also give you guaranteed hours unlike the zero hour contract, so for some this may suit you better as comes with some reassurance and routine of knowing when you will be working. Choosing the correct contract to suit you will allow you to remain in your job role and eliminate stress and pressure which will contribute to Actively Raising The Standard Of Care
 

We advise you: before signing anything, read the contract given by your employer and also read Contract: Full-time and part-time contracts – GOV.UK and Part time workers | Acas advice and guidance. Be sure to check your employer accepts a union. After this, if you are unsure about anything in your contract please contact ACAS for free and instant advice on 0300 123 1100

Full time

The full time contract will suit you if:
 
 Pros:

– You do not have any other work commitments
– your children are older or you have a support network at home
– You do not suffer with anxiety or depression: due to the nature of the job and the hours that will be expected of you.
 
Also consider these:
 

Cons:

– You will be working up to and over 35 hours a week. And alternative weekends.

– You could be working 7 days or more in a row depending on your shift length and alternative weekends on.  

– It is difficult to manage family and/or childcare 

– You will be expected to attend staff meetings on your days off. This can be extremely detrimental to those working a night shift who are then expected to stay on shift into the day to await a staff meeting or to return a few hours later when then should be asleep for their own mental and physical well-being.

– If you suffer with anxiety and/or depression we do not recommend you to take on a full time contract as the nature of the job and hours expected from you can be detrimental to your mental well-being, can contribute to staff shortages which in turn will deliver a lower standard of care. Please see above the Zero hour contract and Part-time contract.

 
There’s no specific number of hours that makes someone full or part-time, generally a full-time worker will usually work 35 hours or more a week. A full-time contract is the most common contract that is used, this guarantees you the hours you require unlike the zero hours contract. Working as a healthcare assistant on a full-time contract can be very hard, you can be expected to do 12/14 hour shifts back to back. Firstly this goes against the code of conduct outlined by ACAS. Secondly this can make you extremely tired and contribute to high levels of stress and pressure which can lead to anxiety and depression, it can also contribute greatly to your mood when you are at work and can affect your ability to carry out your job role safely and effectively for both yourself and the service user. Choosing the correct contract to suit you will allow you to remain in your job role and eliminate stress and pressure which will contribute to Actively Raising The Standard Of Care.
 
We advise you: before signing anything, read the contract given by your employer and also read Contract: Full-time and part-time contracts – GOV.UK Be sure to check your employer accepts a union. After this, if you are unsure about anything in your contract please contact ACAS for free and instant advice on 0300 123 1100
 

Watch out:

The maximum hours you can work is 48 hours per week, employers will ask you to work over this by signing a form.

 
We advise you to not sign and opt out. The nature of this job role can be very stressful and have a negative effect on your mental and physical well-being, to work over 48 hours a week puts yourself and the service user at risk of harm. Tiredness leads to erratic behavior, impaired judgment and not being able to uphold your job role to your full ability, sickness will shortly follow leading to a lower standard of care being delivered. Be responsible you have a duty of care to yourself and others. 
Care Elderly Woman
Et call home. Tony Luciani Photograph. Subject to copyright

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Flexible working hours

  • Flexible working is a scheme from the government where an employee (not just parents and carers) can make a request called a ‘statutory application’ for flexible working hours that suits your needs. For example: having flexible starting and finishing times or working from home.  

Flexible working rules are different in N.Ireland 

To be eligible:

Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks.

Employees must put their request in writing 

Employers must:

Deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.

Examples of handling requests in a reasonable manner include:

  • The employer considers the request and makes a decision within 3 months – or longer if agreed with the employee.
  • If the employer agrees to the request, they must change the terms and conditions in the employee’s contract.

  • If the employer disagrees, they must write to the employee giving the business reasons for the refusal. The employee may be able to complain to an employment tribunal.

  • assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application

  • holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
  • offering an appeal process
 
 

There are different ways of working flexibly:

Job Sharing: Two people do one job and split the hours.

Working from home: It might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work.

Part time: Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

Compressed Hours: Working full-time hours but over fewer days.

Flexitime: The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example 10am to 4pm every day.

Annual listed hours: The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

Staggered hours: The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased Retirement: Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time.

 

For more information on flexible working hours look here on Gov.uk website.

Sick leave

You should inform your employer as soon as you become ill the first 7 days of sick leave is classed as self certification after this period has ended you must seek medical advice and gain a sick note to remain off work and receive SSP. Sick leave can not be used in place of annual leave. If you become sick during your holiday you should stop receiving annual leave and transfer to sick pay from the start date of your sick note. Within your employment contract you will be entitled to, on average, 6.5 days sick leave in a year. This only accumulates for your own sick leave this should not include dependency leave. Your employer will track your sickness and address you personally if it becomes to high or regular. Your score may be calculated on the Bradford Factor.

 “The Bradford Factor (BF) is a human resource tool. It is alleged to be named after work undertaken by the Bradford University School of Management. The basic idea is to find a formula that gives a numerical value to patterns of absence, the lower the score the better the record. It‟s usually used as a disciplinary tool for sickness absence – and BF use has led to people being sacked or otherwise discriminated against.” – Unison 

If your score is too high or your absence is regular. You will be breaching your contract where you are accountable to fulfill your contracted hours. An employer will also see your absence as a loss of income. This will trigger a review meeting. In this meeting your manager will review your absence and hear your reasons for your sickness.  If there is an underlying reason for absence then there may be a health referral where an assessment and document can be provided by a: physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report. If you’ve just had a run of bad luck or got a bit run down then you may be set a review period. Any further absence may then result in a disciplinary warning or they may go directly to a warning based on the extent of the case.

Statutory Sick Pay

If you are too ill to go to work, do not attend your shift. Call your manager on duty or team leader.

-Generally, if you’re employed in the UK you are entitled to sick pay when you’re unable to work due to illness.
-You should tell your employer as soon as possible that you will not able to attend work.
-Your employer may request a “return to work” interview when you go back to work.
-You’ll need a fit note (also called a sick note) if you’re off for more than seven days (including days you wouldn’t normally work, like weekends)
-You’re still entitled to sick leave if you are on holiday. (There are limited circumstances in which you may still be entitled to sick pay if you work abroad.)
-You can still get sick pay if you’re on a zero-hours contract (and earn more than £120 a week, and not self-employed), though some employers might not offer you work when you are ill.
-Self-employed people are not entitled to sick pay.

-If employees are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19) they can get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111. They do not have to go to their GP or a hospital.

For further advice on Sick leave look at the Gov.uk site here

Dependency Leave

As an employee you are allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. A dependent could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent or someone who depends on you for care. Dependency leave is generally unpaid, your employer may offer you to use your annual leave during this time. You are under no obligation to use your annual leave for this purpose.

There is no limit to time off taken for dependency leave. The law states that the amount of time granted to an employee must be ‘reasonable’. But if your employer feels it is effecting your work and business they may ask you to attend a review meeting where your absence will be discussed.

The law allows you to take time off in five types of situations. These are when it is necessary:

-To provide assistance if your dependent falls ill, gives birth, is injured or assaulted
-To make arrangements to provide care for a dependent who is ill or injured
-As a result of the death of your dependent (for example, because you need to make funeral arrangements)
-To deal with the unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown in care of your dependent (for example, if your childminder fails to turn up)
-To deal with an unexpected incident which occurs with your child during school hours (for example, if your child falls ill or injured or is suspended from school)

If your situation does not fall into one of the above categories, then you will not have a legal right to take time off for dependents. You should explain your situation to your employer and request compassionate time off – check your contract, as some employers offer more generous leave policies.

Dependency leave can not be used in case of pre-booked appointments or planed time off. In these cases you may be eligible for parental leave.

Compassionate leave
If you aren’t given time off for dependents, your employer may allow you ‘compassionate leave’ – this can be paid or unpaid leave for emergency situations. Check your employment contract, company handbook or intranet for details about compassionate leave.

For more information on dependency leave look at Gov.uk site here

Parental Leave

Eligible employees can take unpaid parental leave to look after their child’s welfare, for example to:

-spend more time with their children
-look at new schools
-settle children into new childcare arrangements
-spend more time with family, such as visiting grandparents

Employment rights (like the right to pay, holidays and returning to a job) are protected during parental leave. 

Parental leave is unpaid. You’re entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. You must take parental leave as whole weeks (eg 1 week or 2 weeks) rather than individual days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or if your child is disabled. You don’t have to take all the leave at once.

You must have parental responsibility for your child. This means you must be named on one of the following:

their birth certificate
their adoption certificate
a parental order, for surrogacy
a legal guardianship
If you’re a step-parent, you can also have parental responsibility if it’s agreed by both biological parents.

If you’re separated from the other parent or do not live with your child, you still have the right to parental leave if you keep parental responsibility for your child.

For more information on parental leave look at Gov.uk site here

Watch Out:

Do not use your annual leave for any other purpouse than a personal holiday. Employers will ask you to use your annual leave only to benefit the company.

Nightingales Army recommends joining a union as soon as you enter into an employment contract with a care provider. You have the right to utilize the available leave mentioned above without fear of discrimination or determent. If you have experienced difficulty accessing leave fairly though your employer and feel you have not received a fair and equal opportunity that may have left you in financial determent or dismissal Nightingales Army recommends contacting ACAS on 0300 123 1100

Care Elderly Woman
Et call home. Tony Luciani Photograph. Subject to copyright