Missing workers: retaining mature age women workers to ensure future labour security Chief Investigators: Prof Siobhan Austen, Dr Rachael Ong, A/Prof Therese Jefferson, & Prof Gill Lewin (Curtin University) & Prof Rhonda Sharp (UniSA) Research Associate: Dr Valerie Adams (UniSA) eS4W Forum on the Care Economy Sydney, 27 March 2013
The Missing workers project • Is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant for 2011-2013 • Is a mixed methods project comprised of quantitative data (surveys) and qualitative data (interviews) • Covers staff providing care in both residential aged care facilities and community care • Due to Australia’s ageing population, formal (paid) aged care services are an important part of the care economy.
Policy context and rationale for the study • Projected rise in demand of 325% for aged care workers between 2003 and 2031(Hugo 2007) • Women comprise 90% of aged care workforce • Median age of workforce is 45+ • Little economic theory/analysis of labour supply of mature age women.
Research Questions • What are the key factors influencing older women’s decisions to maintain or leave employment in the aged care sector? • How do mature age women’s paid and unpaid roles and circumstances interact to determine their ability/willingness to remain in paid work in the aged care sector? • What are the implications for policy on the retention of mature age women in Australia’s aged care sector?
Data sources • Pilot study, 14 semi-structured interviews (informed research proposal) • HILDA data & staff records (annonymised) from Silver Chain, a large non-profit aged care provider in WA • Modified NEXT survey – 2 rounds • (Large European Nurses Exit Study) • 45 semi structured interviews with a sample from NEXT survey participants.
Pilot study analysis • Analysis of the links between the recognition afforded to care work and how this affects aged care workers’ motivations for undertaking aged care work, which found that: • Many carers perceive that their contributions are not respected by members of their own families, friends and the broader community for a number of reasons.
Reasons for negative perceptions • The ‘dirty’ nature of the work meant that it was strongly perceived as low status • A belief that women over 45 and over have few skills or competencies that are valuable in a market context • The critical role of wages in providing a source of social recognition • The specific importance of the communicative aspects of their work is not recognised when the time allocated to these tasks is too short.
Conclusions and future directions • The intrinsic motivation for care work may be affected by ‘plain old disrespect’ or ‘misrecognition’ • There is a pressing need to challenge claims that care should not pay • Publicise and encourage ‘best practices’ management, which should include the allocation of sufficient time to care • Address the issues of low unionisation and inadequate public funding that also contribute to low wages for care workers.
Analysis of aged care provider’s data • Accessed an aged care provider Silver Chain’s employment records from 1 January 1997 to 11 October 2007 • A total sample of 7,220 spells of employment across 7,064 individuals, the majority of whom (97.8%) recorded only one employment spell • Identified three occupational groups: • Carers and home helps • Nurses • Administrators.
Initial findings • Women were 92.9% of new recruits • This workforce is overwhelmingly made up of mature age women workers • 43% were employed on a casual basis at the start • of their employment spell compared to the Australian workforce as a whole where, in 2007, the rate of casual employment was 23.6% • The proportion of casual contracts was highest among carers and home helps at 52% while only 14% of the administration employees started on a casual contract.
Survival analysis • Less then 30% of spells by workers who commenced in the organisation when they were under 25 lasted for more than two years • The equivalent proportion for spells by workers who were 45+ when they started in the organisation was 40% • The proportion of those beginning with permanent contracts remaining after 2 years is approx. 45% versus 35% for casuals • Approx. 70% of carer employment spells lasted more than 6 months, while only 37% lasted longer than 2 years.
Survival analysis • Employment spells for female employees exceeded that for male employees by 13% • The median employment spells for employees who started when they were aged between 55 and 64 was 42% higher than that of workers who commenced employment when aged 25-34 • The median duration of carers’ employment spells was 32% lower than that of administrators and 29% lower than the median duration of nurses’ spells • Employees on permanent contracts had a median spell duration 58% longer than casuals.
Implications for improving retention in the aged care workforce • Any workforce strategy for the aged care sector must be tailored to the needs of women, who make up the overwhelming majority of the sector’s workforce • The family and community roles performed by women, and the extent to which these are accommodated in employment arrangements, are likely to be important to the sector’s ability to both attract and retain a workforce in the future.
Implications for improving retention in the aged care workforce • The results confirm the importance of mature-age women in the aged care sector workforce: • Many aged care workers join the sector mid-life, suggesting that the sector may actually benefit from an ageing workforce • Mid-life women are more likely to have elder and disability support roles than roles relating to the care of their own children • Parental leave is potentially less important than carer’s leave in helping ease potential conflicts between work and family roles.
Implications for improving retention in the aged care workforce • The results highlight that older workers have relatively high retention rates in the sector • Mid-life women comprise the bulk of the sector’s workforce, they are the key source of new recruits, and they offer the sector the highest chance of employment stability • Strategies for workforce training and development should logically be focused on this group.
Implications for improving retention in the aged care workforce • There is a relatively high rate of casual employment and a strong correlation between employment type and retention: • It is reasonable to assume that the lack of job security and the lack of leave entitlements inherent in casual contracts will diminish the attractiveness of the sector and make staying in the sector a less appealing and feasible alternative.
Analysis of the HILDA data • Siobhan Austen & Rachael Ong ‘Retention of mid-life women: Does the workplace matter?’ • Looked at the effects of ill-health and informal care roles on a sample of 1,535 employed women aged 45 years and over • Found that work environments influence the ability of women experiencing ill-health and increased formal care roles to remain in paid work • Permanent employment improves the chances of employment retention by women experiencing ill-health
Analysis of the HILDA data • For women on casual contracts worsening health status reduces the probability of employment by a relatively large amount – 7.8% • However, the reverse is true of increased informal care roles • For women with permanent employment the probability of retention is reduced by 7.8% • For women on casual contracts there is only a small reduction (1.8%) in the probability of retention.
Modified NEXT surveys • Included questions on recognition and questions to align with the ill-health and informal care roles in the HILDA survey • 19 Aged Care providers recruited • 6,867surveys sent to direct care workers 45+ • Electronic version on ANF website • 3,945 Surveys completed (2850 Paper,1095 Electronic) • Stayers and leavers surveys sent 12 months later – data entry in progress.
Summary • Survey resulted in hugely rich data source • Early findings include:- 43.4% of respondents thought of leaving in past year- Many reasons for thinking of leaving • Key relationships identified so far:- thinking of leaving, pay rate and satisfaction with pay- thinking of leaving and self-rated health • Much more data is available.
Interviews • 45 interviews conducted across 5 metropolitan and 2 regional areas. Early findings include: • There is some evidence of age discrimination in the aged care industry although some employees stay working after 65 years of age • An increase in the employment of staff from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds about across states and in both metropolitan and regional areas.