By Donald Houston-McMillan, Managing Director of Allmed Healthcare Professionals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Workforce Holdings Limited
In some sectors of the economy, the nature of the work means that a more fluid workforce better suits the needs of the worker, the employer and the end customer. The healthcare environment is one such sector, with nursing being a prime example. Placing nursing staff through a temporary employment service (TES) provides greater freedom of choice to the nurses and employers.
Hospitals cannot predict how many patients they will have far in advance. They operate on tight budgets, designed to offer the best possible care to patients when they need it. They need to plan their staff complement from week to week – sometimes from day to day – according to supply and demand to ensure that there is always enough nursing support at their facilities.
Importantly, hospitals also need to ensure that the nurses on site on any given day have enough capacity to give optimal care to patients. This is how hospitals create the right balance between their flexible needs, the requirement to protect workers’ rights, and the ability to provide acceptable working conditions.
Nursing is a demanding profession, with typical shifts lasting 12 hours. However, nurses working through a TES are able to accept assignments in addition to their regular employment in such a way as to balance their needs, their family’s needs, and the needs of the healthcare facility.
Nearly 89% of nursing professionals placed in temporary positions are already in full time employment elsewhere. Not only are they making the most of the opportunity to earn extra income, they are helping address the chronic skills shortage in the sector. This kind of work mobility contributes to a better functioning labour market.
While nurses in permanent positions are able to supplement their income, TESs provide work seekers with a stepping stone to permanent employment, often facilitating the creation of jobs that did not exist before. It also creates opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized groups to enter the labour market, giving them the power to build their career.
For those nurses who have chosen to work fewer shifts in order to focus on raising their families, TESs offer a way for them to take placements from time to time, keeping them in touch with the evolution of the profession and giving them accessibility to ongoing training.
Allmed Healthcare Professionals and its holding company, Workforce Holdings Limited, comply with all recent changes to the legislation governing the employment of all contract workers, including those in the health care sector. We work hard to enhance the image and status of the profession in South Africa, and we work closely with the government to ensure that all nurses provide a competent and ethical service to patients.
We also support the nurses that we work with by offering them benefits that they would not ordinarily enjoy as contract workers, including access to essential employee benefits, such as health insurance and funeral cover, as examples.
It is clear that nursing as a sector lends itself to being supported by a temporary employment service, particularly by one that understands the needs of the workers, complies with the requirements of the law, and that supports nurses through ongoing opportunities for employment and development.