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21.08.14

‘Name and shame’ councils whose care providers flout minimum wage

Councils that commission social care employers that ‘flout’ National Minimum Wage (NMW) laws should be named and shamed, according to Unison.

The union has called on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to start naming local authorities that don’t pay the minimum wage – something it has recently started doing to companies who have failed in this manner.

A letter sent to Vince Cable has called on BIS to team up with the Department of Health to introduce measures to tackle the issue of non-compliance of wage legislation in social care.

Unison has called on the government to tackle, in particular, issues such as unlawful deductions for uniforms, non-payment for travel time, training, accommodation and underpayment for sleep-ins, which it says can contribute to care workers not receiving a lawful wage.

Last year’s Does it pay to care? research by the Resolution Foundation stated that with pressure on care budgets, workers are increasingly being paid only for the ‘contact time’ that they spend with clients and do not receive discrete payments for the time spent travelling between them.

“In a sector marked by ubiquitous rates of low hourly pay, there is little room to absorb the additional costs of travel between clients and many domiciliary care workers regularly find themselves working schedules that mean that their actual pay is less than the legal minimum,” it added.

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of Local Government, said: “The lack of action to address the problem of 200,000 care workers being paid below the NMW is staggering and we are urging the government to do more.

“Whilst the onus must remain on the care employers to comply, councils must take far more responsibility to ensure that they commission in a responsible manner.”

Recently a survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) also revealed that 19% of councils in England do not know whether the homecare providers they commission pay their staff the NMW.  It also found that only 5% of councils were confident that their providers paid staff properly for their travel time, despite non-payment for travel time being a major cause of low rates of pay.

PSE has asked BIS for a comment on this, but at the time of publication received no reply.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opininon@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Mark   21/08/2014 at 21:00

When the Condemn government said 'we are all in this together', what they really meant was that the Government, businesses, and local councils are all in it together. The home care issue and the illegal payment of hundreds of thousands of home care workers less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW) exemplifies this collusion and cover-up. The Government want to get the unemployment figures down in time for the next election, and they will do anything to achieve this - and that includes turning a blind eye to breaking the law (non-payment of NMW). According to the Government any job is better than no job at all, even if that job pays less than the NMW. In the past no one could be forced to work for less than they would receive on benefits, now they can be, and most people in work also now have to claim benefits to make ends meet.. Vince Cable and his Codemn buddies would sell their souls for prospect of re-election, and although they may want to name and shame a few employers for not paying their staff the NMW, would he really want to name and shame councils directly and indirectly employing millions, and hundreds of thousands of those paid below the NMW?

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