The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is balloting its members on a pay rise offered by Four Seasons Healthcare (FSHC).
Ballot papers on the offer, which has been recognised as fair by the RCN and other unions, are to be returned by January 31.
The RCN will also soon be balloting its members at FSHC group businesses, brighterkind and Huntercombe.
FSHC said: “We have a common aim with the unions that all front line care staff and support staff should be well trained, motivated, secure and fairly paid for the important work that they do. We meet the requirements of the National Living Wage at least.
“However, it is important to put this into context. Staff costs typically account for c 65% of care home revenue (not overhead), before any other costs. The introduction of the National Living Wage increased staff costs by around 5% in the first year, with further increases due this year and subsequently.
“At the same time, the entire elderly care sector is challenged by the funding constraints that have seen the fees local authorities pay for care home places decline by 5% in real terms in the past three or four years. They are typically between £40 and £70 per resident per week below the independently calculated fair cost of care.”
Clare Jacobs, lead negotiator for RCN members employed by FSHC, said: “The negotiations have been complicated by several issues. The introduction of the National Living Wage (a higher minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over) as well as changes to minimum wage rates and FSHC attempts to tackle nurse shortages, has already affected pay rates for many of Four Season’s nursing staff.”
Clare added that “significant funding problems in health and social care is affecting all publicly funded social care providers”.