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These are the 24 biggest issues faced by carers in Ireland

A new report has called for stronger employment rights in the home care industry.

Image: Shutterstock/Alexander Raths

GROUPS REPRESENTING CARERS have called for new employment guidelines to protect workers in the industry.

Siptu, the Migrant Rights Centre and the Carers Association said a nationwide consultation with home care workers showed exploitation and discrimination are widespread in the sector.

Carers employed by families or private agencies are “increasingly vulnerable to precarious working conditions including low pay, temporary contracts and irregular hours”, they said in a joint statement.

The main issues highlighted at consultation workshops held by the groups and attended by 109 home care workers included:

  • A lack of standards for workers in the private sector – different rates of pay, care standards and terms and conditions of employment;
  • Insufficient training to perform all aspects of work;
  • A lack of time with clients;
  • Tight schedules with duties at multiple locations, meaning workers often have to cut short their time with clients to reach their next one on time;
  • Unfair clocking-in systems, with time spent in transit not being recognised;
  • Increased amount of paperwork, without additional time being allocated for client care;
  • No budget allocation for travel, transport expenses or time in transit – a particular problem for rural workers who travel long distances between clients;
  • Discrimination and racism in the workplace;
  • A lack of job security;
  • A fear of losing hours over complaints;
  • Occupational health and safety issues;
  • A lack of clear job descriptions;
  • Exclusion from patient care plans and reviews;
  • A lack of employment contracts;
  • Working on-call and night shifts without extra pay;
  • A lack of basic employment rights and entitlements, such as the minimum wage, annual leave, public holidays and overtime;
  • Employers not registering employees for tax purposes, meaning workers have no way to pay tax or make PRSI contributions;
  • Working excessively long hours without rest periods;
  • Heavy workloads;
  • A lack of job progression opportunities;
  • A lack of health insurance, despite working with sick people;
  • Difficulty in managing multiple relationships with family members;
  • Emotional and psychological stress caused by living and working in their employer’s private home;
  • A lack of recognition of the value of care work.

The groups urged the government to introduce national standards of accreditation for home care providers to ensure the sector is more rigorously regulated.

“The National Employment Rights Authority should continue to conduct inspections in the private home sector … to ensure labour law compliance and to uphold workers’ rights,” the report said.

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The government should also introduce “contractual sanctions for home care agencies found to be in breach of equality and human rights legislation, to nurture a culture of acceptance and compliance”, the report said.

Read: ‘A carer, what is that?’ I am a weightlifter. I am a nurse. I am a specialist. I am exhausted

Read: Educated, broke and fed up: how Ireland’s unemployed are struggling to get by

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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