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Crazy hours working as a home carer, AIBU to think it's not legal?

(20 Posts)
SilenceOfTheSAHMs Mon 25-Jul-16 20:11:23

I've been working as a home carer for a year while studying for my NVQs. I have frequently worked17 hour days with no breaks. Is this legal? We just get more and more work piled onto us, there is just too little staff. I love my job and the service users but it's getting ridiculous.
AIBU to ask you all where I stand in terms of being allowed breaks and how to be more assertive with my bosses when they're pressuring me to do more work? I can't go on like this.

EsmeraldaEllaBella Mon 25-Jul-16 20:26:29

Not legal. Are colleagues expected to do the same? Have you ever asked outright about brakes? Assume they must comply with some sort of caring organisation that you could possibly speak to for advice

M0nstersinthecl0set Mon 25-Jul-16 20:28:35

You've got to push back. Agencies ARE understaffed - do not be afraid to say you're not available for more shifts in a week etc. So many carers are persauded BECAUSE they care. But it grinds you down to keep giving out the care, support and of yourself.
Be more assertive on hours.
Breaks - i'm not hot on the rules and I know the manipulation of travel time is rife. Have you joined Unison? They'd be a good resource if you have?

SilenceOfTheSAHMs Mon 25-Jul-16 21:13:28

Thank you for your replies, I do need to be more assertive but you are right, I do care very much about my service users and say yes due to that far too often. I have thought about joining a union. I will look into it.

Poonmig Mon 25-Jul-16 21:16:24

I used to be HR manager for a big (very reputable) care agency, and my advice was to always join a Union, they will give you so much advice and support if you ever do need it. Our staff were very fairly treated, but the horror stories they told about precious employment was awful.

Google the Working Time Directive and ask to speak to your manager about your working hours.

MiscellaneousAssortment Mon 25-Jul-16 22:32:37

Btw have you opted out of the working time directive?

maggienolia Tue 26-Jul-16 12:43:55

Agree it's appalling - the thing is it's counterproductive as at the end of a 10 hour run with no breaks you're tired so more likely to make a potentially fatal mistake and far less patient.
The first thing I always advise any new starter shadowing me is that they learn to say no, mean no and stick to no. And if you have a break scheduled, take it. If the subsequent calls are a bit late, tough.
I now have a personal rule about not working on days off. OK it means that certain carers who take all hours given are looked at more favourably, but I would rather have a family life.
As regards letting service users down, switch the guilt chip off.That's management's problem to sort out.

littlemissangrypants Tue 26-Jul-16 15:59:53

I worked in a similar job. I worked as a pret timer doing between 50 and 70 hours a week. Every time I was not at work I got calls asking me to come in due to them being short staffed. I often went in to cover as I didn't want the service users to suffer.
I only ended up as a part timer due to a breakdown and then after 2 more years I had another breakdown and was forced out. My health and mental health will never recover from the treatment I received by my ex employers. I am still not back at work even 2 years on and worry if I will ever get back to it.
Join a union but frankly that kind of work will burn you out. I was left a gibbering wreck rocking in a corner due to my job. Don't go the same way. No job is more important than your health and mental well being.

BeckerLleytonNever Tue 26-Jul-16 16:14:26

I work as a homecarer.
I work 168 hours a week. (24/7)
I get NO breaks (apart from now as disabled person asleep), No holidays, No company car/perks of the job.
I get ''paid' for 35 hours a week, not a penny for the other 133 hours.
and the MIN IMUM wage is supposed to be seven pouns something an hour.
I don't get to go home at the end of the day as Im a fulltime carer fro my disabled teen.

Im not the only one, there are thousands of us out there.

sorry you're feeling that way, but I just want to give some perspective, and no doubt ill get a 'ya,r boo' reply to this post. just the thing to make us all feel better when were already treated as shit by society.

Bloopbleep Tue 26-Jul-16 16:30:31

there are a few things you want to look into here. First is your break allowances. You are entitled to 20mins in every 6 hours at its most basic although it gets more the longer you work in a single shift and allocates time (days) off over longer periods. The difficulty is with the travelling arrangements and whether you're considered at work when travelling between clients. There have been cases for home carers where it was decided this should be paid time but if it's not it could well be your (unscrupulous) employers are considering this unpaid breaks. I think you might be able to challenge this. Next is, if you're working 17h per shift you have to think about if you've agreed to exempt yourself from working time directive which means you've agreed to doing over 48hours per week. If you haven't then it's another issue you may be able to raise with your employer. You'll have to check your contract (if you have a written one) to see what your rights and responsibilities are. You can ask for specific policies if these things aren't included in your contract.

I'm not sure about how well care sector employers recognising unions but if your employer does or is willing to, I'd get in touch with the relevant Union for advice and support. Unions are invaluable in situations such as this. Sadly our lovely government as well as hoping to destroy workers rights afforded to us from Eu also made expensive changes to tribunal system making claims more expensive.

60sname Tue 26-Jul-16 16:39:29

Becker I'm sorry you're in this situation, but guilting the OP who sounds very committed to her clients but extremely overworked is not fair.

HughLauriesStubble Tue 26-Jul-16 16:59:29

becker your situation is awful and I feel for you but it's hardly the same situation as the OP. No need for the guilt trip.

WaitrosePigeon Tue 26-Jul-16 17:27:28

Becker the OP is entitled to feel however she wishes. Your circumstances are totally different, don't try the guilt tripping stuff.

OP care work can be total slave labour. They pile the work on and expect you to pick up shifts whenever they want you to. All I can suggest is that you've got to start thinking of yourself, be assertive, say no more often. Your mental and physical health is paramount flowers

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 26-Jul-16 19:49:57

I'll say what I always say, which is that until the care sector evolves into a profession which respects its employees, it will continue to provide bad care to the vulnerable people who need it (& pay for it a lot of the time).

OP, I suspect you are good at your job, but I also suspect you give good care to your service users in spite of the system.

Carers deserve respect. With career progression, a reasonable pay scale, hours, contracts, holiday and sick pay, pensions etc.

As a disabled person who relies on carers to survive (direct employees, not agency), I have have appalling abuse at the hands of carers, and also seen carers on the edge of break down attempting to do right by the people they care for in a system which has zero respect for carers or those that need care.

It's a sick system, and I hope one day it changes, for everyone's sake.


MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 26-Jul-16 20:19:41

Oh and Becker, don't even get me started on the provision of care and respite.

I can feel your pain and exhaustion coming off your post. You sound utterly drained.

I really feel for you flowers

Of course, someone's else's bad situation doesn't belittle or over shadow anyone else's. Sadly, there's more than enough misery to go around. It's never a good thing to end up fighting for the scraps under the table... when the people sitting at the table are bloated from their revolting greed and gluttony. More resources, that's what's needed.

Your suffering is heard. X.

maggienolia Wed 27-Jul-16 07:38:30

The first care agency that treats it's carers like human beings rather than lists on a screen which they can fill every gap with more calls, and pays for travelling time, will have carers queuing out of the door.
And more to the point, they will keep the experienced ones that they have and that the customers know and trust.
But I'm not holding my breath.
And no way would I want my DD going into the profession.

Penfold007 Wed 27-Jul-16 08:02:41

Carers are not respected or appreciated by either the government or employers. If a family carer claims carers allowance the government thinks they are worth £1.77 an hour and places all sorts of restrictions on them. The hourly rate we pay the care agency and what they pay the hardworking carer who helps me with my parents are poles apart. We've considered employing directly but what then happens on her day off, sickness or holidays? We couldn't cope with the uncertainty, I suspect we are not the only ones.

maggienolia Wed 27-Jul-16 08:46:19

Penfold, I know an elderly lady who <whisper >, did employ a carer direct. They both quit the agency at the same time, the carer registered as self employed and they were away.
The lady employed different day and evening carers to cover sick days. For holidays she booked herself in for respite care. As far as I'm aware it's working out really well.
May be something to think about to avoid lining agency director pockets.

Penfold007 Fri 29-Jul-16 20:26:37

maggienolia now that's interesting and food for thought grin.

Boiing Fri 29-Jul-16 22:33:38

But doesn't really matter what the law says does it? Can't remember the last time my husband had a day with no work, think it was xmas sad

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