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Councils not ensuring minimum wage paid to care workers

30 October 2014

The vast majority - 93% - of councils in England and Wales don't make it a contractual condition for homecare providers to pay care workers for travel time, according to a Freedom of Information request by the trade union UNISON.

While just 7% of councils in England require providers to pay travel time, the picture is even worse in Wales with none of its councils instructing providers to pay for travel time.

Non-payment of travel time means many care workers are not paid the minimum wage of £6.50 an hour, Unison says.

Of the 98% of councils that responded, 79% admitted that they have never asked to see pay records or other written evidence about the pay of care workers employed by care providers they commission, in order to check National Minimum Wage compliance.

By not paying travel time, homecare providers risk falling foul of National Minimum Wage laws.

Unison says it is estimated that up to 220,000 care workers across the UK earn less than the minimum wage.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

"The Government's feeble guidance to councils will do little to curb the endemic practice of illegally paying care workers less than the National Minimum Wage. It is a scandal that more than 200,000 care workers receive less than £6.50 an hour. Many members are reporting actual hourly rates as low as £3.50.

The only way to stamp out these illegal practices is for the Government to tighten its guidelines to ensure there is a contractual condition between councils and homecare providers that workers must be paid at least the minimum wage. And councils must be required to properly monitor compliance."

For more information see http://www.unison.org.uk/content/ConNewsArticle/5520