Locum Insights


10 things you should think about before becoming a locum social worker

Fancy going into agency work? Things to consider before you take the leap!

Published on 7th January 2016

BASW professional officer Sue Kent and Tricia Gbinigie, business development officer for Independent and Locum Social Workers at BASW provide their Top 10 Tips on things to consider before becoming a locum or independent social worker.

1) Career decisions - Being a locum worker is a great opportunity to try working for different employers and experiencing different areas of work which can be helpful in determining your long-term career goals.

2) Frontline skills - Being a locum is often an excellent opportunity to update your frontline skills and develop your practice whether you are a very experienced social worker or have not worked in a frontline position for some time.

3)         Pros and cons – If you become a locum worker, you are likely to get a better hourly rate and you will have much more flexibility to try different roles. However, you do miss out on some of the benefits of being in full-time employment such as holiday pay, sick leave, pension and income security.

4)        Starting up – If you are setting up your own business to work as a locum, you will need to be registered as a sole-trader or start your own limited company. You need to think about a number of requirements such as getting an accountant, registering with HMRC and paying tax. BASW has some books available on setting up a business in their bookshop available to members.

5)       Choose wisely - Select your locum agency carefully. Not all agencies are the same so it is certainly worth doing your research as registering with the right agency can really enhance your experience of being a locum.

6)        Budgeting - Even with the best planning, work may be contracted in length and there may be periods where you are not working. It is important to budget efficiently to cover outgoings during periods with lower or possibly no income.

7)        Resilience - Employers often expect you to hit the ground running and you will be expected to work hard immediately with little induction and maybe limited support. You may need to find support from other areas other than your contracted work base such as network groups (BASW can help with this).

8) Team work – In new jobs, you will have to get to know your colleagues very quickly and be able to work well within the team straight away. Equally, you may have to leave them behind, sometimes at very short notice.

9) CPD – Think about how you will access CPD, again perhaps through your agency or BASW. Be aware before you start agency work that you may not be eligible for training in any placements and have a plan in place as to how you will continue your development and career progression.

10) Protection! – Insurance and union representation is vital for locums and BASW can provide a one-stop shop for both

 

Pros and cons of agency work

What type of person becomes a locum social worker?

Check out potential pay rates in your area in our Paywatch map.

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