Managers’ experiences of employing migrant care workers
Jill Manthorpe | King's College London
Objective: Despite free labour movement in the EU, the UK social care sector still relies on migrant care workers and nurses from other parts of the globe. Increasingly rigorous immigration regulations require managers and employers, in the UK care sector as much as other fields of activity such as checking the status of those tenants wishing to rent property, to check and monitor the immigration status of their staff. The aim of this paper is to explore accounts of the recruitment practices and human resources work of care home and home care managers in the social care sector who make decisions about recruitment and employment practices and need to engage in immigration status checks.
Data and method: This paper reports secondary analysis of a large data set of interviews with 121 social care managers in England, as part of the (anonymised) study funded by (to be inserted after review). Interviews took place in four contrasting English areas at two time points, over the period 2009-2014. As part of this study we collected information about managers’ views and experiences in deciding to employ migrant workers or otherwise, and the work this entailed for them. Interviews took place with care home and home care providers and not care users directly employing their own care workers/personal assistants. Interviews were recorded with permissions and all transcribed and analysed.
Results: The data analysis revealed three major themes. Managers’ experiences of implementing new and changing regulations revealed a state of vigilance to ensure compliance with the new requirements. Many expressed fears about the risk of being inadvertently found to be in breach of the regulations and about the severity of the penalties. As part of the adaptation to new regulations they described drawing on new sources of recruitment or other pragmatic responses; some however declared that the efforts entailed were sometimes too burdensome.
Policy implications: The potentially stressful nature of managers’ roles in abiding by the new immigration and employment regulations is revealed in this analysis. Moreover, managers declare that while recruitment remains a problem in social care, their autonomy in recruiting and retaining staff is limited. Policy makers’ ambitions to reduce bureaucracy need to be considered alongside the reliance on managers to address immigration permissions as part of their employment obligations.