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Absenteeism of domestic care workers

2022 Conference Presentation

8 September 2022

Absenteeism of domestic care workers

Daniel Roland , University of Kent , United Kingdom

Stephen Allan, Katerina Gousia, Deb Smith, Eleni Chambers
University of Kent


Domestic care workers, or Personal assistants (PAs), have become an increasingly important element of long-term care (LTC) in England since the introduction of Direct Payments in 1996 and the Care Act 2014 legislation. The PAs, who are directly employed by social care users, or individual employers (IEs), can perform a number of support tasks including vital assistance in activities of daily living (ADL). The seemingly high turnover rates and work absenteeism in this market can cause disruption of these important daily activities, causing LTC users to suffer neglect and worsened quality of life. Although there is research on turnover and absenteeism in nursing workforce in hospitals and LTC workers in care homes or nursing homes, little attention has been given to turnover of domestic care workers and even less for absenteeism, which often precedes turnover, in a workforce of over 100,000 people in England.

This research aims to fill this gap in knowledge by using two different elements of analysis. The first focuses on quantitative methods using the Skills for Care's survey with IEs and PAs in England, exploring the factors associated to one form of absenteeism/sick leave from work. After controlling for a number of factors ranging from job characteristics such as number of hours worked and type of contract, socio-economic characteristics from the IE and PA, and Local Authority level characteristics, the findings suggest that greater distances that PAs have to travel for work are associated with higher incidences of sick leave and, similarly, a larger number of PAs being employed by the same IE is also positively associated with higher absenteeism. The second element of analysis in our study involves the discussion of these results and how they compare to the life experience of two LTC users, who provide unique inputs from the people who would benefit the most from the reduction of absenteeism.