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Pay rise for front line staff at employee-owned care company based in Highlands


By Val Sweeney

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Campbell Mair, of Highland Home Carers.
Campbell Mair, of Highland Home Carers.

All front line care and support staff with social care provider Highland Home Carers (HHC) are to be paid a minimum of £10 per hour from next month.

The announcement has been hailed as "fantastic news" by Scotland's Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn.

It follows the news that from April, Inverness-based HHC – the biggest employee-owned organisation in Scotland – will also increase its employer’s contribution to the company’s pension scheme.

Mr Hepburn said: "We want all employers across Scotland, regardless of size or sector, to pay the real Living Wage - so it’s fantastic news that Highland Home Carers will be increasing the wage for their front line care and support staff to £10 an hour from the beginning of March.

"As an accredited real Living Wage employer, it is clear they recognise that paying their staff fairly is not only the right thing to do for individual staff - it also brings huge benefits for their wider organisation."

In June 2020, HHC also awarded its staff a tax-free payment of £500 per person (pro rata whole time equivalent) for the "extraordinary service and support" offered during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about the acts of employee ownership in action, HHC managing director, Campbell Mair, said: "At our January board meeting, it was decided that we should take the opportunity to thank and credit our committed, compassionate, and resilient frontline workforce who deliver high quality care and support, all day and every day.

"One of our key aspirations - and a stated aim of our strategic plan - is that HHC, as Scotland’s largest employee owned company, can be an environment that offers fair work, narrowing any pay gaps in order to achieve a consistent and equitable pay structure.

"We are proud that we exceed all national minimum standards in all aspects of our reward policy and take pride to be part of an employee owned organisation that so demonstrably strives to improve the working lives of the social care workforce, creating positive social change.

"In the past two years, we have increased our front-line rates of pay by over 11 per cent. It’s a fantastic example of employee ownership in action."

HHC, which has a staff roster of over 400 people, intends to review its pay structure every April going forward but decided to bring forward the uplift to £10 per hour with immediate effect to recognise the value and benefit to individuals in their workforce.

The move has also been welcomed by NHS Highland chief officer Louise Bussell.

"It has been an exceptionally challenging year for all frontline health and social care staff who have done a remarkable job for our population. NHS Highland welcomes the actions being taken by one of the bigger social care providers," she said.

HHC has operated across the Highlands since 1994,caring for and supporting people living in their own homes, often with highly complex health and social care needs, and working alongside doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

Alongside traditional home care, it provides one-to-one support work tailored to individuals’ needs and is increasingly involved in providing care outside the traditional care-at-home model.

In October last year, HHC was selected as a finalist in three categories at the prestigious Scottish Care Awards 2020, with director of operations, Carolanne Mainland, going on to win the coveted Positive Impact Award.

She was singled out for chairing daily Covid-19 resilience meetings of HHC’s organisational leadership team, navigating the care provider through the extremely challenging issues of PPE and anxiety associated with Covid-19 while also carrying out risk assessments and playing a key role in getting colleagues who had been shielding back to work - all while she too was shielding.

She was also praised for her support of a very vulnerable service user with complex learning difficulties whose routine and normal activities has been altered due to lockdown.


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