Childcare: a sector reliant on unpaid overtime

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Loyalty and the goodwill of staff is the only thing keeping nurseries going, according to new research by education union Voice.

In a survey conducted within the childcare sector, 335 staff responded and 46% claimed to be working more than their contracted hours with just 27% of those being paid for their overtime. Participants also stated that it is often impossible to take breaks away from the children as a result of the staff-to-child ratio.

With the free childcare scheme in England expanding to 30 hours, this will see increasing pressure placed on the goodwill already provided by childcare staff.

Jacqui Mann, director of HR 4 Nurseries, stated that: ‘It depends on what is included in an employee’s contract as to whether they get paid for overtime or build up days off, those paid a salary and not hourly will not be paid overtime.’

The survey responses were primarily provided by those qualified above Level 3 and aged between 41 and 50; these employees are also much more inclined to be receiving a higher wage than those that are younger, with fewer qualifications.

Out of the 295 participants: 25% of them said their gross salary was more than £20,000 a year; 55% have salaries between £10,000 and £20,000 a year; 15% earn between £5,000 and £9,999, and 4% earn less than £5,000.

There are concerns that, with the way the sector is going, older staff are leaving the profession early and this is leading to a decreasing number of qualified and experienced early year carers.

The challenge childcare now faces is recruiting and retaining staff with higher qualifications in a sector where, as a result of chronic underfunding, there are low wages and poor career prospects. Therefore, childcare is not an inviting career choice for many.

 

Read more about the Level 3 recruitment crisis here.

 

 

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