Growing a Sustainable Social Care Workforce

Recruitment Incentives

At Orkney Islands Council we are incredibly lucky to have a hard working and dedicated care workforce – but we need more people to join it!

There is a shortage of carers joining the profession across the country and we are struggling to recruit.  This has led to an increased reliance on agency staff – which impacts significantly on our budgets and on the continuity of care for our service users.

We’re looking to offer financial incentives which will help encourage more people to join our workforce – making it sustainable for the future and reducing the pressure on you, our existing staff.

The ‘Golden Hello’ scheme will be a one-off financial payment of £2000 and will be offered to those taking on social care roles in specific settings, who are either new to care work or returning to care work after time away.

The ‘refer a friend’ scheme is an initiative to encourage existing employees of the Council to recommend a career in social care within specific settings to friends, family or former colleagues.  If that person then successfully applies for, takes on a role and remains in the role for three months, then the referrer will receive a £750 payment.

We know folk – whether our existing staff or folk interested in the scheme – will have lots of questions and so we’ve pulled together the following frequently asked questions. This page will be added to, so If there’s something which you feel hasn’t been covered, please drop us an email

Frequently Asked Questions

The posts included in these schemes are Care at Home Assistants, Care Organisers, Mobile Community Responders and, Social Care Assistants in adult residential units and supported living accommodation*. 

Information will be published through the Orcadian Newspaper (Situations Vacant section from w/c 17th June 2024) and the Orkney Islands Council MyJobScotland page for any of the positions within the scope of these schemes.   

If you’re a member of Council staff interested in finding out more about how to apply for one of these roles, and/or about the Golden Hello and Refer a Friend schemes, please find relevant information in the MyView system via the Useful HR Information section - “OHAC Social Care Recruitment 2024/25”.  

*Subject to the Golden Hello and Refer a Friend Pilot Scheme Terms and conditions

A project team has been established to look at recruitment challenges within Orkney Health and Care and the reliance on agency staffA recent “Working in Care” survey has highlighted key themes which will be taken forward by the project teamIt was great to see from the survey that lots of staff would like to be part of working groups to help address and offer their advice regarding what we can do to alleviate these challengesWorking groups will be getting organised and set up in the near future 

Induction is hugely important, both in terms of the Council and Service. and we are reviewing our existing content to ensure that, where possible, we make the new inductions as consistent as possible across all areas and that all employees have supported, positive start to their working relationship with the Council.   We will plan inductions out across the year so we are able to have existing staff involved in them and to ensure there is capacity to take the inductions and training forward.  

A clear training plan will be put in place for the local induction process for all staff to make it consistent across all areas. Discussions will take place prior to recruitment to ensure there is capacity for this. 

There will be information and data collected from the beginning of the project regarding recruitment interest and the progress of posts and vacancies will be monitored and reviewed throughout the 12 month trial period.  

The Council has over recent years already streamlined pre-employment processes to speed them up wherever possible. The requirements that remain are generally legal requirements and/or requirements of the Care Inspectorate Safer Recruitment approach which the Council is expected to follow.  There is nothing in the pre-employment process or timescales that can be safely cut out, that has not already been done. 

Pre-employment check timescales are also largely dependent upon other organisations, applicants or individuals processing them, for example Disclosure Certificates, Medical Pre-Employment Health Checks, and Employment References, to name some.   

To help, Recruiting Managers will be carrying out as much of the pre-employment checks as possible at interview, i.e. evidence of right to work in the UK, qualifications, driving licence and professional registration (where appropriate) in line with the current Council Recruitment and Selection Policy and Procedure.  it can also be useful and often lead to faster turnaround times, when the successful candidate helps to ensure they complete their part of these processes as quickly as they can, such as filling in forms, and notifying their referees to look out for a reference request as they will be guided to do.  Recruiting Managers will be maintaining contact with successful applicants during the pre-employment process to look to remind and support them to complete these as quickly as possible. 

The survey has been analysed and the project team will be reviewing the findings of this in more detail and prioritising the key themes that have been raised.   Staff will be contacted about this in due course with action points that OHAC are taking forward plus there will be further opportunity for involvement through focus groups.  

Over and above that there has been other work already carried out to help increase the pool of potential candidates who can apply for posts.  For example in Care at Home posts driving is no longer an essential criteria for day/evening posts.  This change has been made as staff, who work in the service, have been highlighting that they are aware of people who would love to work in care at home but don’t drive.

The Golden Hello is aimed at attracting new people into the care profession or people that are returning to care. There is a need to grow the existing workforce and attract more people into the organisation.  

The trial period is for 12 months with a 6-month review to look at the progress. 

We are exceptionally grateful to all of our agency colleagues in Orkney for the work they have done and continue to doOur agency colleagues have left their families and their homes in mainland UK to come to Orkney to work and help us deliver our services and we could not have continued to deliver services in the way we have without them.   However we need to build a larger contracted workforce that delivers greater consistency of service provisionIt is not anticipated that we will see any immediate differences in our agency workforce but as the project progresses the services will review the positionWe want to reassure our agency colleagues that we will have ongoing conversations with them at each step of the way. 

Yes there is an opportunity to increase current contracted hoursThere have been staff discussion sessions held recently regarding this topic, with further information sent out to staff who weren’t able to make any of the sessions.

Relief staff are also able to take up contracted roles should they wish to do soHowever for staff who wish to remain as a relief worker there will still be hours that require to be covered, however we would have to advise that there can be no guarantee that the level of relief hours will be able to continue as they are, as we are prioritising filling the contracted posts. Relief cover will still be an important need. 

There is a need to grow a more sustainable and consistent workforce to provide ongoing compatible services Therefore these posts are the ones that, currently, either have a high number of vacancies and/ or  despite being advertised again and again have not had the level of interest necessary to fill those vacancies. 

NoRelief staff are already Orkney Islands Council employees and therefore not eligible for a Golden Hello payment if they apply for one of the posts.  

No, the criteria states that it has to be a permanent post or temporary of at least 12 months in order to qualify. 

Whilst the focus is on recruitment where staff want to decrease their hours, this can initially be discussed with their line manager, followed up by completing the correct form in line with the Council’s Flexible Working Policy.   This will then by considered by the appropriate manager.   All flexible working requests are considered fairly but the decision as to whether they can be granted is subject to the needs of the Service.   When making requests for flexible working, care should be taken to understand any possible implications for shift working allowances that may be paid. 

All Council employees including care staff have the legal right to request flexible working which can include a set pattern of workingFlexibility of working is a key strand of the Council being an employer of choice   Flexible working requests are always considered reasonably and fairly and are never unreasonably refused, however the need to be able to deliver front line services is always a fundamental consideration. 

We acknowledge that the Council faces a number of different challenges relating to recruitment and retention of staff, including the availability and costs of accommodation, which is largely out with the control of the Council as an employer.   However as part of the Council’s Our People Our Plan work, a working group has been looking at steps that could be taken to try to assist with the accommodation challenges and recommendations are being made to the Council. 

During the discussion sessions with staff, after the survey results had been shared, there was further information provided about Golden Hello and Refer a Friend, and staff were advised that they are currently ambassadors for their services. It was explained that the good work staff carry out and their value base and behaviours make them ambassadors for their respective services; that their work speaks for them; the reasons that staff have stated they would recommend someone to work for the Council and what is important to them all demonstrates an ambassador approach.

There were discussion sessions organised for agency colleagues to attend via MS TeamsIn addition there will continue to be regular updates for agency colleagues as and when requiredThe services welcomes feedback from all staff and from agency colleagues at all times and are encouraged to share their views, ideas and thoughts.

Induction and training for new staff is being looked at and, where it is appropriate will be standardised.    Training is a crucial element of service provision and a key priority for the ServicesWith this campaign being aiming at attracting people who are either new to care or may not have worked in care for some time effective induction and training is even more critical than normal. 

Feelings were that would be good for new staff and existing staff to be able to feed into progress of new recruits.

The Council agrees its terms and conditions of employment for staff with the Trade Unions locally.  Currently probationary periods are not part of those agreed conditions of service.

The Council’s Organisational Structure chart is available on Orkney Islands Council’s website. Please visit the  click on the following link and it will take you to the overview page.  

'Our Structure' page and click on the 'Download the OIC structure chart' which it will take you to each of the service areas and show you a further breakdown. 

Currently posts are advertised on repeat and there are advertising costs associated with this that hopefully will be now be minimised by the introduction of this campaignIn addition, current spending on agency staff far exceeds available staffing budgets so it is anticipated that if the recruitment incentive approach is successful we can bring budgets back in line with the money available. 

YesCurrently the induction and ongoing support for new staff is being looked at to ensure that initial training and ongoing support is tailored to be informative and service specificThis will give every new staff member an opportunity of support from coming into post and on an ongoing basis.  

That would be a matter of choice for the individual concerned and they would need to weigh up the pros and cons of doing that. 

Provided eligibility is met under the terms and conditions of this scheme, an employee must complete a minimum of 3 months in the qualifying post before the payment approval process is initiated. The employee must complete and submit the Golden Hello Claim/Payment form to their manager. Once the form is completed, the manager will submit the form to Payroll who will then make the payment of £2000. * 

As part of the job application form, applicants are asked to confirm who they were referred by. No payment will be made unless stated on the application form. Providing the referred applicant has joined and remains in the post for a minimum of 3 months, the referrer can claim the payment of £750 gross by completing the Refer a Friend Claim Form. * 

The referrer must refer someone to apply for one of the qualifying posts and the role must also have been advertised as being eligible for the Refer a Friend scheme. * 

All payments are subject to Tax and National Insurance. Additionally, any payments given will not constitute a pensionable earning and will not be consolidated into salary. 

To be eligible, the candidate must be either an applicant new to care or someone returning to care who has worked in a comparable or similar position to one of the qualifying roles. * 

Most employees of the Council are eligible to refer a friend to one of the in-scope posts of the Refer-a-Friend pilot scheme, however certain exclusions do apply.  

Those not eligible to participate in this scheme include: the Project Team involved in creating this scheme, Chief Officers of the Council, and members of staff who are directly involved a recruitment process which could result in one of the posts in scope of this scheme being appointed to. Please see the T&Cs for the Refer-a-Friend scheme for more information on when exclusions apply. * 

Yes. Both incentives require forms to be completed and submitted before payment can be made. The forms can be found at the end of each scheme’s terms and conditions * 

Both pilot schemes will be effective from week commencing Monday 17th June 2024 to Sunday 22nd June 2025. * 

Once the successful applicant has completed a minimum of 3 months in their post, the payment approval process can be initiated. * 

In terms of Golden Hello, should the candidate decide to leave the role within the first year of employment, they will be liable to repay a pro-rata amount of the Golden Hello payment. * 

  • Care At Home Assistants 
  • Care Organisers 
  • Mobile Community Responders 
  • Social Care Assistants (In Adult Residential Units and Supported Living Accommodation) 

Yes. A referrer can refer a family member, friend or previous colleague. * 

No. Members of staff who are directly involved in the recruitment process such as the recruiting manager, and anyone involved in the shortlisting / interview process are not eligible. Please see the T&Cs for the Refer-a-Friend scheme for more information on when exclusions apply. *