Does better quality contracting improve pay and HR practices? Evidence from for-profit and voluntary sector providers of adult care services in England
This article investigates the complex interaction between contracting arrangements and quality of human resources (HR) practices. It draws on quantitative and qualitative empirical evidence for the adult social care sector in England where most services are purchased by local authorities and delivered by private for-profit and voluntary sector organisations. The study finds sufficient evidence among surveyed care providers that higher fees and partnership-oriented contracting have positive influences on pay levels and quality of HR practices to suggest that better local authority contracting may be an enabling condition for the improvement of employment standards. However, the relatively weak statistical associations suggest other factors mediate, or distort, the anticipated relationship between quality of contracting and quality of HR practices. The type of provider is identified as a key mediator: private, for-profit providers and those managed by a national chain are least likely to distribute the benefits of better quality contracting fairly through improved employment standards.