Disproportionate number of charity staff ‘paid below the living wage’

A report from the Living Wage Foundation says 26 per cent of sector staff are in that category, with the figure at 21 per cent for the overall workforce

The proportion of workers in the voluntary sector paid less than the living wage is higher than the UK average, research has found.

A new report compiled by the Living Wage Foundation says that 26 per cent of charity workers earn less than the living wage, compared with 21 per cent of the overall UK workforce.

The living wage is a voluntary rate that is higher than the minimum wage and takes into account the cost of living in the UK and in London.

Living wage rates, which are set by the Living Wage Commission, increased this week to £8.75 an hour in the UK and £10.20 an hour in London, up by 30p and 45p per hour respectively on last year’s rates. The minimum wage for people aged over 25 is £7.50 an hour.

The report, which has been released as part of Living Wage Week, is based on data collected by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and taken from those in the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey who identified as working for a charity, voluntary organisation or trust from an overall sample size of about 40,000 households.

Researchers found that slightly more than 30 per cent of women in the voluntary sector earned less than the living wage, compared with 21 per cent of men.

They found that 73 per cent of low-paid workers in the voluntary sector were women, even though they made up only 65 per cent of the workforce.

And they found that slightly more than half of charity workers aged between 20 and 24 were paid less than the living wage, but this was slightly below the average for this age group in the workforce as a whole.

Small charities were found to be more likely than larger organisations to pay below the living wage, the researchers found.

Workers in residential care were the most likely to be paid less than the living wage, the report says.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds were particularly affected by low pay, it says, but this might have been down to their under-representation among respondents.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said the report showed that low pay remained a “real challenge across the charity sector”.

She called for a collaborative approach among charities to ensure that those working in the sector could earn wages that met the cost of living.

“The good news is that more than 800 charities have already signed up as living wage employers,” she said. “We look forward to working with funders, commissioners and charity employers to highlight the benefits of investing in responsible wages, such as increased morale, motivation and staff retention, and reduced absenteeism.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said there was a “clear moral, economic and business case” for increasing the wages of the lowest paid.

“Wherever possible, I would encourage charities to consider becoming living wage employers,” he said.

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Too few qualified staff to handle legacies, says institute chief

Chris Millward, chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management, also tells seminar that a lack of qualifications and training means many charities lack the soft skills that would help

Charities are not employing enough qualified staff to handle legacies and will struggle with rising volumes of cases, according to Chris Millward, chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management.

A lack of qualifications and training has also meant that many charities lack the soft skills to help them deal with difficult or disputed legacy cases, he said.

Speaking at a seminar on the issues facing charity legacies, held by the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite in central London yesterday, Millward said the problem of staff recruitment was one of the things that kept him awake at night.

“There’s a challenge at the moment in that charities aren’t necessarily employing professionally qualified people to undertake the role of legacy administration,” he said.

The institute needed to work to establish legacy administration as a recognised and respected profession, he said, in much the same way the Institute of Fundraising was with fundraising.

“I think there are some challenges coming down the line, particularly in regard to the rising death rate of the baby-boomer generation,” Millward said.

“What that actually means is that hopefully we’re going to get more legacy gifts, but also that we’ve got a resourcing issue because we can’t currently recruit as many people as we need to do the job let alone do the job well to handle those increasing numbers.”

He said the sector needed to consider what kind of training or professional qualifications candidates should have to make them effective legacy administrators, how they should communicate with those people and encourage them into the profession and how they should be supported once they entered it.

This would also put charities in a better position to focus on supporter care and deal with more complex legacy disputes, Millward said.

“We portray ourselves quite often as the victim in some of these scenarios, unable to do anything about our own situation,” he said.

“But what we’ve failed on is some of those softer skills: communications, being sensitive, influencing, managing internal stakeholders – the stuff that actually is critical and creates those breakthrough moments.”

Michael Clark, legacy and in-memory manager at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, who also spoke at the seminar, agreed there was an issue with recruitment because the career was not well known and was not seen as a sexy. He said that charities should start raising awareness of legacy administration at universities.

He said there was also a problem with retention.

“Some of the larger charities are starting to implement, good robust structures to enable legacy staff to develop,” said Clark. “But an awful lot don’t employ anybody in the legacies department over management level despite the income probably being greater than any other income within their organisation.”

Legacy administrators tended to stay in post for only 18 months or so because there was very little opportunity to move on once they reached manager level, he said, and for small charities, replacing them could mean having to start again with a new strategy.

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Mencap faces £20m back-pay bill for sleep-in staff, says chair

Derek Lewis says that if the government does not pay this bill, the charity could be forced to transfer its care facilities back to local authorities

The learning disability charity Mencap might have to pay £20m in back pay for sleep-in care workers, which could lead to the closure of 200 residential care homes and services run by the charity and up to 4,000 staff being made redundant.

The warning comes after a row with government over back pay for sleep-in workers, who are used widely in the learning disability sector to provide care for vulnerable adults. Until recently workers were paid a flat-rate, “on-call” allowance rather than the national minimum wage.

Derek Lewis, chair of Mencap, said the government should provide funding for as much as £400m in back pay owed by social care charities to sleep-in care workers, and said that if it failed to do so it could force Mencap to transfer the care facilities it runs back to local authorities.

He also warned that, although the charity began paying sleep-in care staff the national living wage from 1 April, 40 per cent of local authority commissioners had not yet agreed to pay the new rate, a situation Lewis said was “not sustainable”.

The flat rate for a sleep-in care worker is typically £35 to £45, with workers receiving either the national minimum wage or the national living wage for the hours they spend providing care, according to the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, which represents charities that provide services to disabled people.

But in the wake of two employment tribunal decisions made last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has changed its guidance to ensure that the national minimum wage applies to sleep-in carers.

Earlier this year, HM Revenue & Customs began asking some disability charities to give six years of back pay to affected staff.

But the BEIS later said employers that had underpaid workers for sleep-in shifts before 26 July 2017 would have historical financial penalties waived and HMRC would suspend its enforcement activity about sleep-in care shifts until 2 October.

Lewis said that Mencap’s back-pay liability was approximately £20m, but the charity had only £19.6m in financial reserves.

“Funding back pay would require highly damaging actions to sell assets, cut programmes and cancel investment,” he said. “Our plans to improve the lives of those with learning disabilities could be set back by a decade or more as we struggle to repair the financial damage that would be caused by this liability.

“If government fails to fund or offers only partial funding, Mencap would be forced to take emergency action to hand back care services that do not cover costs to local authorities.

“Initially, this could result in the termination of care in more than 200 residential care homes and services, affecting more than 2,000 people who have serious learning disabilities. Between 3,000 and 4,000 dedicated care workers could face displacement or redundancy.”

Lewis has also criticised a Department of Health sample fact-gathering exercise on the extent of sleep-in care financial liabilities for being carried out “very late in the day”, with HMRC action against the charities due to resume in 25 days’ time.

“No one expected government to sign a blank cheque, but the process was very late in the day and hurried,” said Lewis.

“Scrambling to gather complex data in late August, when many people are away and tensions are running high, creates anxieties about the accuracy of information on which critical decisions will be taken.

“Concerns have been heightened by the government’s surprising refusal to share the results of this exercise with providers.”

The Department of Health is understood to be working with the social care sector on the issue and is expected to make a further announcement in the next few weeks.

A petition calling on the government to pay the £400m back-pay bill had been signed by more than 10,000 people as of this morning.

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Staff numbers in the sector up by 8 per cent in six years

Figures from the DCMS say the sector employed 891,000 people in 2016, an increase of 8.1 per cent since 2011

Employment in the charity sector has increased by more than 8 per cent since 2011, according to new government figures.

According to figures released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the charity sector employed approximately 891,000 people in 2016, an increase of 8.1 per cent since 2011.

This means that the charity sector accounted for 2.7 per cent of all jobs in the UK in 2016.

The figures also show a 2.2 per cent increase in the number of charity workers between 2015 and 2016.

The employment figures include all employees at charities, voluntary organisations and trusts, but exclude volunteers, social enterprises and mutuals.

But the DCMS said the employment figures for the charity sector were an underestimate, partly owing to the recent transfer of the Office for Civil Society to the DCMS from the Cabinet Office last year.

The DCMS figures show that recent increases in the charity sector’s workforce came after a severe contraction in 2012 and 2013 that resulted in approximately 76,000 people leaving the sector.

EU nationals accounted for 4 per cent of the charity sector’s workforce, and non-EU overseas nationals accounted for 2.9 per cent, the figures show.

The DCMS statistics also show that 93.2 per cent of employees in the civil society sector were employed, as opposed to self-employed.

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Tribunal orders Scottish Refugee Council to pay two former staff £27,000

A Glasgow employment tribunal found the charity had unfairly dismissed two former refugee integration advisers

The Scottish Refugee Council has been ordered by an employment tribunal to pay two former employees almost £27,000 in compensation and expenses for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

In a judgment issued by the Glasgow employment tribunal last week, the SRC was found to have unfairly dismissed Stephen McGuire and Petra Kasparek from their roles as refugee integration advisers on 30 June 2016.

As a result, the tribunal ordered the charity to rehire McGuire on or before 31 July 2017 on his previous pay and conditions, and pay him arrears of wages of £6,084.09 and expenses of £1,200.

Kasparek was found to have been discriminated against because she was on maternity leave and was compensated with £8,466.02 and £10,000 compensation for injury to feelings as a result of the charity’s discrimination.

Of this figure, £4,487.35 is payable to the public purse because Kasparek had been receiving unemployment benefit after her dismissal.

She was also granted £1,200 reimbursement of fees in taking the case to court.

Kasparek and McGuire worked for the charity’s refugee integration service, which was principally funded by a two-year, £2m grant from the Big Lottery Fund that ended on 30 June 2016, the judgment said.

The SRC made a formal application for a second grant from the BLF at some point before the original grant was due to run out, but became aware that a decision would not be made until August and decided to give notice of the risk of redundancy to the four refugee integration advisers.

A second application was made to the BLF for development funding, which would have kept the service running until a long-term decision was reached, but it was rejected.

Kasparek, while funded by the grant, was on an indefinite contract and went on maternity leave in June 2015. McGuire, who was previously on a temporary contract, was employed as maternity cover, according to the judgment.

Kasparek gave notice of her intention to return from maternity leave on 12 May 2016, but decided to take her accrued annual leave until 4 July 2016.

The affected staff were given formal notices of dismissal. The tribunal found there was “no attempt by the respondent to consult with any of the individual recipients of these letters when they were issued” or prior to 13 June 2016.

The SRC board then decided to retain two of the four affected refugee integration advisers for two months from the end of the grant, with all four affected staff undergoing interviews to decide who would be retained.

Kasparek was not included in many of the communications sent out by the charity to those affected by the redundancy decision, the tribunal found.

It said she was disadvantaged in the interview process for the two temporary roles because she was unable to refer to recent examples of work, having been on maternity leave. She also appealed her dismissal, which she lost, although McGuire did not make an appeal.

Kasparek was unemployed until 3 October 2016, but her new role paid £94 a week less than her previous salary.

The BLF grant application was eventually successful and ran for two years from 1 September 2016, but Kasparek was not reappointed.

McGuire took some temporary employment before finding a new job.

The tribunal’s judgment said that it was not impressed with the evidence provided by John Wilkes, chief executive of the SRC at the time of the redundancies, and Kes Cameron, head of finance and administration. It said that Wilkes had “a surprisingly poor understanding of the respondent’s policies and procedures” and Cameron was “clearly and significantly lacking in experience or understanding of the role of a manager conducting an appeal against dismissal”.

In a statement, Gary Christie, interim chief executive of the SRC, said: “SRC always seeks to retain the expertise of our highly dedicated staff. However, like many charities, we face difficult staffing decisions in tight timeframes when project funding streams come to an end and no new funding is in place.

“The tribunal decision shows that in this instance we got it wrong. The board and management team will carefully consider the judgment in detail. The charity will implement all necessary actions, including an audit of our HR processes, to make sure that when difficult redundancy situations regrettably arise in the future we do so equitably and in line with our policies.”

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Staff morale at highest level since 2008, Charity Pulse survey finds

The latest survey from Third Sector and Birdsong Charity Consulting finds that 47 per cent of respondents feel morale in their organisation is high

Morale among voluntary sector workers has reached its highest level since 2008, results from Third Sector’s Charity Pulse survey indicate.

The survey, which is carried out annually in partnership with Birdsong Charity Consulting and is in its eleventh year, found improvements in almost all areas relating to staff satisfaction compared with 12 months ago.

Of the 46 areas probed by the questionnaire, 16 showed an improvement on last year and only one was worse than in 2016. The rest remained broadly the same.

The survey found that 47 per cent of respondents said they felt morale in their organisation was high: the highest level recorded since 2008 and a five percentage-point increase on last year.

The lowest level recorded over the past 11 years was in 2008 when just 29 per cent of respondents said morale in their organisation was high.

Slightly more than half of respondents, 51 per cent, said they felt secure in their jobs, up by four percentage points from last year and the highest level since a question on the subject was first included in the study in 2009.

Research found that 70 per cent of respondents said their manager was a good person to work for, up from 57 per cent in 2012.

There were increases of between seven and 11 percentage points in the proportion of respondents who said they felt appreciated, thought their views were listened to by management and did not feel under pressure to work long hours compared with 2016.

But there were some negative long-term trends in areas including workload and internal processes.

The proportion of respondents who said they thought their workload was reasonable fell from 60 per cent 10 years ago to 47 per cent this year, and the proportion who said the results expected of them were realistic fell by 11 percentage points over the same period to 57 per cent this year.

The survey found that just 35 per cent of respondents said their charities’ procedures helped them to carry out their roles effectively, down from 48 per cent in 2010.

“This data suggests that a significant proportion of charities are not taking sufficient action to adjust workloads, to curtail projects or, simply, to stop doing some things,” says the report, produced by Birdsong.

“Staff are being put under greater pressure in the hope that the organisation will be able to ‘muddle through’.”

The survey also showed sharp falls in the proportion of those who were happy with the training or development they receive, which fell from 62 per cent 10 years ago to 47 per cent this year.

Only 36 per cent of respondents said they were happy with the personal development opportunities at their charities, compared with 47 per cent in 2007.

This year’s survey was completed in the spring by 245 people working for more than 110 UK charities.

– The full report will be available from the Birdsong website from Friday

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