£9ph offered to agency staff in first week living wage raised to £11.44ph, Florence survey finds

5% of social care and NHS agency staff report being offered pay under the £11.44 per hour minimum wage in the first week of April, despite the minimum wage increase on April 1st, according to a new survey of 1012 Florence care professionals.

Staff reported being quoted rates as low as £9 and £9.50ph by staffing agencies, with £10ph being the median illegal wage offered by unscrupulous staffing agencies.

On Florence, it’s impossible to be paid below the living wage, as care providers can only input rates starting from the living wage or above.

Illegal rates

47% of those offered illegal rates were quoted last year’s living wage of £10.42ph or above, suggesting a willingness by some agencies to take advantage of a potential lack of awareness of the change in law.

80% of those offered illegal rates work as care assistants, and 71% have worked in care three years or less, showing how those with less industry experience and representation are more vulnerable to poor agency treatment.

8% of survey respondents also reported being offered a rate below the legal living wage of £10.42 in the last financial year (between April 2023 – March 2024), reflecting that this is an entrenched industry issue.

Systematic unfairness

The results expose the systematic disregard for legal compliance and fair pay that exists within agency staffing. Illustrative of this, a major healthcare staffing agency was named on the recent government list of 500 organisations not paying minimum wage.

20% of agency staff we surveyed placed their pay satisfaction after the minimum wage change at 0, the lowest possible score.

“Even though the minimum wage was increased by nearly 1 pound, some [agencies] only increased a few pence,” one anonymous respondent said about the impact of the new living wage.

Dr. Charles Armitage, CEO and co-founder of Florence, says:

“It’s appalling to hear the people who care for us and our loved ones are being taken advantage of in this sustained and disgraceful manner. Nobody should be offered a pay rate below the minimum, but sadly it’s a story we’re all too familiar with in health and social care staffing. I urge care providers to stand up to ensure everyone providing care to their service users is treated legally, respectfully and responsibly.”

Dan Blake, COO and co-founder of Florence, says:

“In England, with the new living wage and other on-costs taken into account, £14.10ph is the minimum staffing cost an agency can offer a care provider in order to make all the correct payments via PAYE. Quality care and ethical practices go hand in hand, so rigorously audit your agencies to make sure you’re satisfied in how they operate. If your agency cuts corners on cost, what other compliance standards are they ignoring?”

Care providers can use this rate calculator to understand if their agency’s rate is legal

See our guide to the true cost of care for more information on how care providers can spot illegal staffing agency pay and other practises.

You might also be interested in:

– 9 harsh truths about bad staffing agencies

– Join an agency or use Florence?

– What’s going on with NHS agency rates?

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