ENABLE Scotland is rooted in fairness at work
From very small beginnings, ENABLE Scotland is now the largest Living Wage accredited social care provider in Scotland.
The charity was founded in 1954 by five sets of parents whose children had a learning disability, to fight for equality and rights.
It supports people with learning disabilities and their families to enable them to live, work and take part in their communities.
The charity provides a range of person-centred services designed to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the people using those services.
Children and adults with learning disabilities, along with their carers, are at the heart of everything ENABLE Scotland does.
With over 5,000 members and supporters, 39 local branches, 2,200 staff and 1,800 frontline workers, ENABLE Scotland helps thousands of people who have a learning disability to live the life they choose.
All of those 1,800 frontline Personal Assistants have benefitted from an uplift in pay since the charity became an accredited Living Wage employer.
Andy Kerr, Executive Adviser, said: “From those families way back in 1954 we now have an organisation of 2,200 employees, 1,800 staff on the frontline looking after our 4,000 members. We are largely involved in social care, employability services and also some very effective charitable projects. From very small beginnings we are now a very large social care provider in Scotland.”
Having successfully campaigned for the real Living Wage to be funded for every hour worked by social care staff, including overnight shifts, the charity’s Living Wage accreditation arrived in November 2020 as it renewed its long-standing pledge to ensure frontline staff are recognised and rewarded for the vital work they deliver.
Andy explained: “From our perspective it was about ensuring that, as an organisation we were not only respecting the employees, respecting the value of their work, but also making sure we had an impact on the economic side of it in terms of the poverty gap and gender impact of pay in Scotland.
“The whole process around getting the Living Wage accreditation is hugely positive because when people look at us they can see our values at play. Having made the commitments to get the endorsement it means people look at us and see we have made that commitment.
“In essence you look at your own direct employment and you look at those who you work with, who you contract into your organisation, ensure that they are also on board with the real Living Wage and that’s what we did.”
Anecdotally, recruitment is ‘good’ and retention already ‘better’ since ENABLE Scotland adopted the real Living Wage and they fully expect to see this continue in the future.
Andy added: “At the end of the day, we want to keep the best staff, the staff we have and the best way to do that is reward them in the right manner.”
First-time mum Catriona Wood has been a Personal Assistant for four years.
She said: “The main thing for me now is that I have come back to work part-time and being paid the real Living Wage has allowed me to make the decision not to work as much as I did before. It has made a huge difference to family life. For me, time at home with family is more important just now. I’m so happy I’ve had the opportunity to do that.
“I genuinely feel like such a valued member of the organisation. I know there are other people in similar jobs who don’t get the Living Wage yet they put in just as much hard work. It’s amazing that ENABLE Scotland gives us the opportunity to do what we love every day but also get paid what we deserve. It boosts morale.”
Advice for other employers
Recruiting the right people, retaining them and rewarding them is key and ENABLE Scotland believes that the real Living Wage is the way to do that.
Andy said finally: “If you look at the demographics of the nation, the age profile of the workforce and the competition for jobs, it is almost a business necessity to have the Living Wage. I’m not sure how folk are going to survive if businesses don’t become Living Wage employers.
“For me it’s a values based approach, but it is also a business imperative to make sure you recruit and retain the best people and of course, making sure you reward people and the work they do is incredibly important. It is about the living embodiment of doing the right thing, respecting the workforce, respecting the work being done and Living Wage endorsement is almost a badge of our values. That’s why it is a good thing to do and the intangibles are that’s how the world sees us.”