The national scandal of care workers’ pay

Ronnie Campbell
Ronnie Campbell

Care workers looking after the old and the infirm are too often the victims of bosses who don’t pay the national minimum wage.

The most common issue is failure to pay homecare workers for the time taken to travel between home visits. That can be up to a fifth of their working day, and it is a national scandal.

The public services union, Unison, is urging the Government to end the underpayment by tweaking regulations so employers are forced to make pay calculations easier to understand. Confusing wage slips mean workers struggle to see how they are being paid so it is difficult for them to challenge.

Although companies may claim to be paying the minimum wage, the failure to pay travel time means that staff are often being paid well below the legal threshold.

Most homecare employees work in isolation so it is difficult for them to compare experiences. And when companies are successfully challenged by individuals over their failure to pay travel time, these tend to be dealt with case by case. They may not correct the payments across the whole workforce.

Unison said it should not be for individual low-paid workers, often on zero-hours contracts, to stand up to each employer when HM Revenue and Customs should be making sure that employers are paying a legal wage.

And when firms are caught not paying the minimum wage, HMRC should ensure that appropriate payments are made to all staff.

I wholeheartedly agree.