Locum working offers substantially better rates of pay. Yes, you have to factor in that you don’t get paid holiday or sick leave and locums have told us that because they are earning more they often face a busier workload or more complex and challenging cases. But each week you will be taking home more money than you would if you were in a permanent role for doing pretty much the same work.

There are many positives to becoming a locum worker and often professionals find the style of working really suits them.


“I have been a locum social worker since 2011 and I recently took a permanent role. It was the shortest placement I’ve ever had, I only stayed four months and had to go back to locum working.”

Livia Culiceanu, locum social worker.


“The challenges are by far outweighed by the opportunities. I thought independent work would be a temporary spell but after 14 years I’ve come to the conclusion that getting a ‘proper’ or ‘permanent’ job is not going to happen. I have never regretted it, I love what I do.”

Gillian Leake, Independent Social Worker and locum



Our locums tell us that one of the best things about locum working is the flexibility it offers. If you want three weeks off work, you don’t have to beg and plead with your line manager and fill in multiple forms and holiday requests, you factor it into your placements. If you want to have a break between placements, you can, if you want to go straight to another placement, speak to your agency in advance and they will be able to keep an eye for suitable opportunities for you.


Locums report that they have a better work/life balance than permanent staff. They go into placements, do their contracted work and don’t feel guilty for leaving on time. The flexibility also means locums can spend more time with their family when they need to without guilt as if they are not working, they don’t get paid.

Becoming a locum enables you to try different areas of work to find the area that you would like to specialise in. It also gives you a good grounding and provides you with a lot of skills and knowledge to take to other placements.


Chief executive of the College of Social Work Annie Hudson recently said that good locum social workers can bring a lot of “organisational savvy” to struggling authorities. “Locum social workers often have the best indication of what ‘good’ looks like in an organisation where things work well and staff are supported and this should be mined and utilised. It’s about the professional leadership you can bring to that organisation,” she said.



Often the main ‘risk’ associated with becoming a locum worker is the sense of not having a permanent job and the fear of ‘will I get work?’


Dee Kemp, director of a social enterprise, TOPAZ Social Work Community Interest Company, says she has been out of work for two weeks in 14 years and reassured locums at a recent Locum Today event that “there is work out there”.


Organisations hit by cuts are loathe to commit to long term contracts and are buying in the services and staff they need on short-term contracts. Indeed, a Community Care survey revealed that one in three social workers are employed through an agency in some UK councils.

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