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AIBU?

To not agree that anyone can do lower paid jobs and top jobs have to pay well as few people can do them?

206 replies

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:45

Following on from the 6 figure thread and a comment about justifying these wages.
I get annoyed by hearing this over and over.
I'm a social worker on 28K. I don't think everyone could do my job. Or do it well. Today my day has consisted of getting a small child to trust me enough in a half hour visit in order to talk to me about their feelings, speaking to an unaccompanied asylum seeker about benefits with no translator available, writing a report for court, being sworn at repeatedly by a teenager who was under the influence and chairing a multidisciplinary meeting with police, school, local authorities, NHS etc. I have to be able to talk to parents about their drug screening results without them feeling judged and disengaging, yet be able to turn around and hold my own with solicitors and judges.
I have to be relatable to people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis or addiction, but also professional and articulate. I have to be flexible and adapt to the many urgent referrals which come in but I cannot let any of my regular contact or statutory visits breach timeframes.

I'm certain that not people many could be teachers or nurses or air hostesses either. I'm certain I would make a terrible barista or bank clerk! Many doctors I know say that they wouldn't have the skills to be their own secretaries or P.A's.

These jobs are not poorly paid because they are unskilled or because anyone could do them. They are poorly paid because they are traditionally done by women and/or because they don't make anyone else substantially richer. In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

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Acapulco12 · 07/02/2024 01:23

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:45

Following on from the 6 figure thread and a comment about justifying these wages.
I get annoyed by hearing this over and over.
I'm a social worker on 28K. I don't think everyone could do my job. Or do it well. Today my day has consisted of getting a small child to trust me enough in a half hour visit in order to talk to me about their feelings, speaking to an unaccompanied asylum seeker about benefits with no translator available, writing a report for court, being sworn at repeatedly by a teenager who was under the influence and chairing a multidisciplinary meeting with police, school, local authorities, NHS etc. I have to be able to talk to parents about their drug screening results without them feeling judged and disengaging, yet be able to turn around and hold my own with solicitors and judges.
I have to be relatable to people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis or addiction, but also professional and articulate. I have to be flexible and adapt to the many urgent referrals which come in but I cannot let any of my regular contact or statutory visits breach timeframes.

I'm certain that not people many could be teachers or nurses or air hostesses either. I'm certain I would make a terrible barista or bank clerk! Many doctors I know say that they wouldn't have the skills to be their own secretaries or P.A's.

These jobs are not poorly paid because they are unskilled or because anyone could do them. They are poorly paid because they are traditionally done by women and/or because they don't make anyone else substantially richer. In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

I don’t have an answer to the question you asked, but I just wanted to say I think you’re doing a fantastic job and I hugely respect the work done by social workers - thank you.

You help so many people and families every day, and do lots of good work that is not publicised or shouted about. The only time when social workers are in the public eye tends to be when something has gone wrong or failed. All it takes for one thing to fail or go wrong in a council’s social work system and social workers are criticised and demonised in the press. I really do want this to change for the better, and for us to publicly celebrate the huge amount of brilliant work that social workers do.

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CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:25

@CurlsnSunshinetime4tea you don't need to be particularly academic to do a SW degree to be honest. You do need very good people skills, especially listening and observation.
Aren't there too many people studying law for the amount of law jobs any way?

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CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:30

@Acapulco12 thanks, this wasn't supposed to be a social work appreciation post.
My baby was delivered by a midwife on a 12 hour shift with no break.
My child's TA is routinely kicked and punched by other SEN children. They also pretty much teach the lesson when there's a supply.
My friend has to ring people to go through confidential medical questionnaires relating to BMI, past drug use, BBV's and basically triage the referrals with no medical training.
Receptionists in doctors constantly being sworn at for asking routine questions.
All these professions deserve better pay.

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Acapulco12 · 07/02/2024 01:37

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:30

@Acapulco12 thanks, this wasn't supposed to be a social work appreciation post.
My baby was delivered by a midwife on a 12 hour shift with no break.
My child's TA is routinely kicked and punched by other SEN children. They also pretty much teach the lesson when there's a supply.
My friend has to ring people to go through confidential medical questionnaires relating to BMI, past drug use, BBV's and basically triage the referrals with no medical training.
Receptionists in doctors constantly being sworn at for asking routine questions.
All these professions deserve better pay.

I realise your thread wasn’t intended to be about social worker appreciation - I just would like to pass on thanks to you.

I agree with you that frontline staff are often treated terribly by their patients, customers and management and they also have to cope with working in unsafe or unsuitable conditions and inadequate pay.

I think one of the solutions to this is a change of government and a good few years of consistent and high economic investment into these sorts of frontline careers.

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Emma8888 · 07/02/2024 01:43

It's market forces. Enough people want to go into caring professions like social work , nursing etc. that they don't have to entice people in with more money.

It's also true on the upper end, too few people want to go into certain niche jobs that they will pay much more to get candidates. It's not necessarily that they are smarter, it's that they are a peg that fits an empty hole.

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CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:45

@Acapulco12 sorry I didn't mean it to come across like that! I just wanted to see if there are any views from the six figure brigade as to why they're worth more than nurses or teachers. I think it's probably as people said, there's no money in these services!
Which brings up an interesting point about performance related pay. I used to disagree with it because I felt it was another stick to bash overworked, overstretched women with. Like 'pull your socks up Barbara, I know you've got an elderly mum and three children and you're on your own but 26 year old Brian planned and delivered an excellent lesson on climate change by connecting up to a school in Ecuador and why don't you have hours to spend and infinite energy to do similar?' But I guess it would increase wages.

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CurlsnSunshinetime4tea · 07/02/2024 01:48

@CheekboneMagazine yes, especially women in law. But just commenting on the concept.
people sometimes limit themselves, but life is about compromise. A job that fulfills vs drudgery.
Nursing is a job that many could do, but to do it well you need the right personality. Even with zero personality you could still work in some sectors of nursing and manage fine.

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FredaFox · 07/02/2024 01:49

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:49

@MiaGee but who's going to shell out to pay local authority staff more?

Local authority staff get more than enough with their juicy pensions and flexi time

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FredaFox · 07/02/2024 01:50

By local authorities I mean admin staff
Drs police nurses social workers deserve more

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 01:53

@Jellycatspyjamas but I'll never get anywhere near six figures. Neither will any nurses, teachers (maybe some??) or OTs.

The vast majority of people don’t get anywhere near 6 figures, it represents 4% of the population (all of whom post on mumsnet it would seem).

Earning £50k, well within the realms of social work, puts you in the top 15% of earners. I think all the “I earn 6 figures” posts around here really skew people’s idea of what a good salary looks like.

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Acapulco12 · 07/02/2024 01:55

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:45

@Acapulco12 sorry I didn't mean it to come across like that! I just wanted to see if there are any views from the six figure brigade as to why they're worth more than nurses or teachers. I think it's probably as people said, there's no money in these services!
Which brings up an interesting point about performance related pay. I used to disagree with it because I felt it was another stick to bash overworked, overstretched women with. Like 'pull your socks up Barbara, I know you've got an elderly mum and three children and you're on your own but 26 year old Brian planned and delivered an excellent lesson on climate change by connecting up to a school in Ecuador and why don't you have hours to spend and infinite energy to do similar?' But I guess it would increase wages.

Not at all! Sorry, I got on my high horse there, because I’m just so frustrated at the news headlines we’re seeing every day about the awful state that public services are in. I do actually agree with you that I think some jobs command huge salaries because they are related to making money. Because these jobs make money, that means there is a lot of money available for the people in these jobs.

On the other hand, frontline workers (especially in the public sector) don’t tend to have particularly high salaries unless they are management because their jobs - unfortunately - don’t make anyone money. I think I understand the ‘logic’ of this system - that money makes money - but I don’t support it or agree with it n

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Acapulco12 · 07/02/2024 01:56

FredaFox · 07/02/2024 01:49

Local authority staff get more than enough with their juicy pensions and flexi time

It may be that they get good pensions and flexi time, but the most junior staff are very lowly paid, which is a problem.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 01:57

Which brings up an interesting point about performance related pay.

Performance related pay would be disastrous in social work. Who would decide what “good” performance looked like?

Good social work takes time, outcomes aren’t always great regardless of how good the worker is, how do you value comforting a neglected child while also finding them somewhere safe to stay while also caring for the parent.

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CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:59

@Jellycatspyjamas I completely agree but I can see it going that way!

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FredaFox · 07/02/2024 02:03

@Acapulco12 as are people in the private sector without the benefits of public
Jobs at the lower end of the scale especially are not paid more in public which is often why people say

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CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 02:06

@FredaFox you could always get a job in the public sector, as we have it so good.

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BobbyBiscuits · 07/02/2024 02:12

@CheekboneMagazine I feel you. I had aspirations in the arts, my fella is a musician, my mates are teachers and work in retail, one is media management for a finance company so she's doing alright.
I thought if you did want to pursue accountancy that was a good piece of advice but obviously not if you don't want to.

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BruFord · 07/02/2024 02:12

I do actually agree with you that I think some jobs command huge salaries because they are related to making money. Because these jobs make money, that means there is a lot of money available for the people in these jobs.

Sadly, @Acapulco12, I think you’re right. One of my relatives makes six figures (not sure how much). He makes his employers several million every year through sales so his contribution to the company is easily quantifiable and he gets paid from that revenue.

Nurses, teachers, social workers make incredibly valuable contributions to society that can’t be quantified in the same way.
They should be better paid, which means changes to government policy and probably general taxation.

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PupInAPram · 07/02/2024 03:10

CurlsnSunshinetime4tea · 07/02/2024 01:21

the thing is, if you are bright enough to make it through the sw uni program you are equally bright enough to have undertaken studies in a field that pays more.
yes you are very underpaid for what you do BUT with a different focus you could easily have become an hr lawyer and have been paid more.

You have completely missed the point.

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Absolutenonstop · 07/02/2024 03:19

You’re not being unreasonable. Most people couldn’t do your job, but you also went into it knowing the parameters of pay (even though it’s unfair for what you take on). You also say you love your job, which is a gift in itself.

I despise my job, and I knew I would when I went into it. I also knew there was a high chance of my earning 6 figures. (Commercial law). That’s the choice I made.

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SilverBranchGoldenPears · 07/02/2024 03:22

Ok so I get those 6 figures (but only just). I get paid for my years of experience and knowledge (yes law), but I am no more ‚clever‘ than your average professional and much of my work is people focussed so not on paper as such.
My assistant is only ok at her job and anyone could do it with organisational skills and she is paid 50k.
The low paid job you are doing is highly skilled and no doubt with your skill set you could command a much higher salary if you wanted to. You chose, luckily for society, social work. But you could in theory do anything. Lots of low paid work is unskilled and literally anyone could do it. And yes it’s mainly women, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

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malificent7 · 07/02/2024 04:41

Yanbu. On £28,000.
Ahp...3 year degree in a highly specialised scientific and techical subject. Got a 1st.
Work all across the hospital in a and e, theatre, community.
See very sick, dying patients every day and lots of gore.
Have to be responsible for health and safety and small errors on my part have big implications.
I love my job but i am not paid well.

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HarlanPepper · 07/02/2024 05:38

I earn less than you OP, as a healthcare support worker in the NHS. People are always telling me they couldn't or wouldn't do my job, and whilst I do take that with a pinch of salt, I do agree that a lot of people couldn't do it well.

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fungibletoken · 07/02/2024 05:41

@CheekboneMagazine

"but I don't want to. I love what I do. I just don't understand why we can't be paid a living wage for doing what we're naturally good at

[...]

but I'll never get anywhere near six figures. Neither will any nurses, teachers (maybe some??) or OTs."

I definitely sympathise, but there are a few different issues here, and this smacks a little bit of a race to the bottom. Six figures is way beyond a living wage. £28k is even arguably still a living wage.

So what are you really saying? That you don't understand why some jobs pay so much more than others? Again, though - what other jobs pay is a bit of a red herring. If you work in a sector with customers that pay a lot of money for the product or service then you're more likely to see some of that money. But that's not to the detriment of people in other lines of work. It's not like taking slices out of a pie.

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Moonmelodies · 07/02/2024 05:47

You say 'not many people could be teachers, nurses, or air hostesses' ... and yet, many people are.

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