SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 9th August) confirmed that after negotiations with Health Service Executive (HSE) management a proposed agreement has been secured that could end precarious work practices for home help workers in the community sector. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “This agreement was secured following negotiations conducted under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. It followed a threat to undertake industrial action later this month by some of the 8,000 workers employed as home helps in the community sector. “These proposals are another step towards securing a quality home care service with fully qualified workers providing care for people who wish to remain in their own home, in their own community. Among the tangible benefits of this proposed agreement is that there will be a substantial increase in home care hours for the most vulnerable citizens in communities across the country.” He added: “It will also see travel time for home helps being included in their take-home pay and hours of work. It is also agreed that going forward the valuable work performed by these workers will be recognised by a new and more relevant job title and the introduction of a set of minimum qualifications for future intakes of home helps.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Marie Butler, said: “Our members will now consider these proposals in the context of the progress made to date, and the opportunity it provides for home helps to make the transition to becoming Health Care Support Assistants. “Our members in the home care sector have traditionally worked in often precarious jobs within the community sector, with no security concerning their pay or conditions. Acceptance of these proposals could change that and bring their jobs in-line with the terms and conditions of other HSE workers.” She added: “As well as the possible improvements which are contained in these proposals, in recent times our members have secured other agreements to enhance the service. These include the creation of up to 800 new home help positions and an end to the 15-minute care window so that the needs of the service user can be catered for in a manner which respects their dignity.”