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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?

OP posts:
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Meadowfinch · 07/02/2024 06:01

There's no doubt most social workers are underpaid. Partly it is because some jobs require fewer qualifications to get started. Having half a million in student debt means salaries need to be higher in some jobs to ever justify someone taking such a huge risk.

Architecture - 7 years study
Brain surgery - 10 years study
Social worker or my job (digital marketing) - 3 years study
Healthcare assistant - straight from school.

And the capitalism point is correct. I have to show that every campaign I run makes my company money. I have to track how much money and prove it. The last one found them £260k of business. If that ever stops, I'll be replaced without a backward glance. That's the deal.

Being in the NHS saves the country money, but it's harder to prove, which gives them the excuse to pay less.

If you moved to Aus I bet you would be paid more. Maybe something to consider?

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Morningcaffeine · 07/02/2024 06:25

I’m a nurse on £32k (would be £35k if full time). I understand that in the grand scheme of things that is not the worst salary in the world. However, I did a three year degree and a post graduate course to specialise and I sometimes get in the car after a shift and weep, thinking that what I’ve done is worth so little.
I think the problem is that society as a whole doesn’t value my profession enough. Of course I could have picked a different career and earnt more but that is beside the point. We need people to do jobs like mine and the OP’s and it’s so demoralising that our pay doesn’t reflect our impact on society.

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NeverAloneNeverAgain · 07/02/2024 06:38

I'm going slightly against the grain. It's not a badly paid profession. As an ASYE you're starting out but will get increments and move up the bands as you gain experience. At this stage you should (not guaranteed) have a protected caseload and your TM should be allocating based on experience so the higher end CP you should either support with or not be solely allocated - I appreciate this is not always the case. I had a PPO in my first month of ASYE.

We do have a good pension if you're not in the private sector.

I also love what I do. I've been in frontline safeguarding for 10yrs+. I'm on £44000 and will stay on this as I'm at the top of my bracket, but this is out of choice. I have no desire to progress into management as it takes me away from the aspects of the job I love. Moving up the ladder equals more pay.

Do I think we should be paid more - yes. If you work out my hourly rate when in proceedings and all the unpaid hours on weekends and evenings I'm probably on less than minimum wage. Can 'anybody' do it - no. Its not an easy profession and no one likes us, however that won't change regardless of the wage.

When I think of lower paid jobs I don't count SW in that. I think of our admin staff who do an amazing job at organising meetings, doing the tasks that take up my time to free me to do other things and generally sort my working life out for about £19000. Shop workers are woefully underpaid yet we would be buggered without them. Realistically whilst maybe your pay doesn't always reflect what you do it's not a low paid profession.

Having said all that, I'm really pleased you enjoy your role and hope you continue to do so!

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Smerpsmorp · 07/02/2024 06:43

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:49

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

Social work is paid so little for what you do - I’m a teacher and can’t believe that teachers and social workers pay is not equal.

I considered retraining but took one look at the salary and thought no, absolutely not. Not for all that extra work! it sounds like I’d enjoy the role but I couldn’t afford a pay cut!!

I’ve been a teacher for 12 years and am on UPS3. I have responsibility for overseeing the ECT programme (the first year teachers). It is such a difficult job and even more difficult since covid. I work 4 days a week, and I earn approximately £40k due to having a little bit of extra responsibility. My full time salary would be about £50k. It can’t go any higher - unless I become leadership, which frankly means you give up any hope of a normal life (my husband is SLT).

and then you read on here posts from people who are currently at work, writing they earn £100k but are underpaid when really they just go on mumsnet half the time! But apparently it’s so easy to get a job like this!

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Sunnytomorrow · 07/02/2024 06:46

You are not unreasonable. Caring jobs are chronically undervalued and underpaid by society. Part of the reason is that, in capitalism, market forces mean that jobs that generate money are valued higher (and therefore remunerated better) than jobs that provide care.

In a fair market, the total net benefits of a job would be valued - both private benefits (i.e how much money the job generates for the employer) plus social benefits (i.e the total value of that work to society as a whole including indirect benefits such as cutting crime etc). We’d also factor in any social costs of various jobs (eg, pollution generated by some work). That requires a bit of government intervention, but would be worth it as society would be better, safer and happier overall.

For example, a government ‘top up’ pay for social care (of, say, £2 an hour) could better reflect the true benefit that we get from the work carers do. It would also have knock-on benefits: by attracting more people to caring jobs as a career, lowering crime rates by improving interventions, reducing the gender-based pay gap, etc.

This could apply to all care roles: teachers, mothers, care home workers, nursing roles.

This isn’t an anti-capitalist bash by the way; it’s just being realistic that no system is perfect and one of the downsides of capitalism is that unrestricted market forces don’t always give the best overall result for society, so we need someone
like the government to intervene.

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hettie · 07/02/2024 06:47

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:17

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

Actually you could. The deputy COO of our trust is a social worker. Many very senior leadership posts in councils or social care.

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Hocuspocusnonsense · 07/02/2024 06:48

I agree with you OP 100%

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Coincidentally · 07/02/2024 06:49

Simple supply and demand. If you want more money and are capable of getting a higher paying job, then leave and do that instead. But you clearly either enjoy the job enough to do iI for less money, or don’t have the skills get a higher paying job. Quite simple!

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susiedaisy1912 · 07/02/2024 06:51

Covid showed us what jobs were important and essential to keep society running. I agree with you op. I'm a band 3 in the nhs and my son earns more than me per hour in a fast food restaurant.

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Nellodee · 07/02/2024 06:56

Coincidentally · 07/02/2024 06:49

Simple supply and demand. If you want more money and are capable of getting a higher paying job, then leave and do that instead. But you clearly either enjoy the job enough to do iI for less money, or don’t have the skills get a higher paying job. Quite simple!

If it’s simple supply and demand, why do we have such severe shortages of nurses, teachers, etc?

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missfliss · 07/02/2024 06:57

YANBU - as you say, you don't make someone else richer, and a lot of highly paid jobs are about just that.

FWIW I couldn't do your job in a million years and I do earn more ( not boasting)

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susiedaisy1912 · 07/02/2024 06:58

Coincidentally · 07/02/2024 06:49

Simple supply and demand. If you want more money and are capable of getting a higher paying job, then leave and do that instead. But you clearly either enjoy the job enough to do iI for less money, or don’t have the skills get a higher paying job. Quite simple!

So people who have a lot to offer an employer but don't have the academia to rise up the corporate ladder deserve a shit wage?

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Hocuspocusnonsense · 07/02/2024 07:03

Coincidentally You have completely missed the point!

OP enjoys her skilled job and doesn’t want to change her profession! Not everyone works solely for money.

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MissingMoominMamma · 07/02/2024 07:07

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.

Yes, but the country needs social workers…

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MikeRafone · 07/02/2024 07:08

I don’t believe that the dissparity between wages should be so great in companies

why should the CEO be receiving £million salary whilst the workers at the bottom of the chain receive NMW and then working benefits to be able to live

the difference between top salary and bottom sale ey should be capped at 14/15x so if the bottom sale ey is £35 average U.K. wage then the top shouldn’t be more than £450 with bonuses included. If the top needs a higher salary to attract then the bottom needs to be increased accordingly

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Wasbedeudetetdas · 07/02/2024 07:08

I've often found that salaries are poorly correlated with what skills, both personality wise and in terms of qualifications/training, are needed in a job.
Social workers, nurses, nursery staff, care workers, teaching assistants (and undoubtedly other skilled and qualified positions) are woefully underpaid.

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IheartNiles · 07/02/2024 07:09

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.

This is as far from the truth as it’s possible to be.
There is rarely a lack of people wanting or qualified to take highly paid positions. They can be filled with lower salaries than advertised.
Whereas there are tens of thousands of vacant nursing posts and yet the pay remains inadequate. Governments prefer to leave posts unfilled or pursue unethical recruitment from poor countries.
This is based in sexism and the undervalue of women’s work.

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Vettrianofan · 07/02/2024 07:11

PupInAPram · 07/02/2024 03:10

You have completely missed the point.

Exactly missing a big point 🤦🏻

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PurpleBugz · 07/02/2024 07:11

My ex was on 6 figures in the NHS. I work in childcare. He thought his brain and thinking power were worth that much. He also thinks he could do my job. But he can't. Childcare is not babysitting its education, if I do bad then school build on bad the kids can suffer their whole life with a bad start. Healthy eating, personal and social skills.

Really pissed me off in Covid. Very obvious who keeps the country going. I worked right through it and my business took such a hit if my partner didn't earn what he did I would have had to give up.

Now again I'm angry because I want to help SEND kids. Sat in a meeting with the target group of childcare locally discussing how to make improvements and they are all saying SEN pay so bad they won't do it.

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Vettrianofan · 07/02/2024 07:19

@PurpleBugz your job is invaluable too just like OP's. I have seen what amazing work staff do at our local early learning childcare centre do. It isn't just playing with toys on the floor with children. There is paperwork to be filled in regularly, updates for parents, risk assessments etc.

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Userxyd · 07/02/2024 07:21

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?

Wow that's such a busy varied and demanding day. So many different skills needed. You are way underpaid- I do agree with you that CEOs are massively overpaid too

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MigGirl · 07/02/2024 07:23

I agree OP those who work in public sectors aren't very well paid.

I work in a school, I'm support staff and am paid on the same level as all support staff. But my role is highly technical, I have just as good a qualifications as the teachers. I'm a science technician, many people have no idea what we do (sometimes that includes head teachers), but without us children wouldn't get a good education.
I have to be able to handle chemicals, fix physics equipment and come up with inventive ways of doing practical activities. Deal with teachers who are effectively our clients and we even end up doing some of their paperwork. Yet we are paid the same as the cleaners. If my health could cope working full time I'd go back to working in industry labs as I'd be paid double with probably less hassle to.

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Ginmonkeyagain · 07/02/2024 07:28

It's lack of bargaining power. Where the public sector is the dominant or only employer they can set the wage.

The way to earn more is to have transferable skills, be prepared to prioritise money over job satisfsction and choose a career with a wide variety of employers competing for your skills.

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ZenNudist · 07/02/2024 07:37

But no one goes into public sector work expecting to be highly paid. Tax payers money never goes far. I think it's a crime so many senior people still get so well paid in public sector but I do think ability to run stuff deserves payment.

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Aishah231 · 07/02/2024 07:38

I agree OP. I'm not sure what magical skills jobs like ceos and investment bankers have which justify the salary. On a lower level my experience of head teachers is they are the most incompetent person in the building, hated the job and therefore put all their energy into doing courses so they could get promoted out of the classroom. I'm sure there are some good ones out there - but I've never met one.

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