Austin Macauley 23 March 2016

Councils attacked over ‘scandal’ of care workers’ unpaid travel time

Councils have come under fire for their role in more than 200,000 care workers being paid less than the minimum wage.

A report by Unison has revealed around three-quarters of local authorities in England do not stipulate that homecare firms must pay their staff when they are travelling between appointments.

The situation was found to be even worse in Wales where just 9% of councils ‘explicitly instruct employers to remunerate staff for the time they spend on the road’.

The report, based on data obtained by Unison via a Freedom of Information request, said councils were breaching guidance that came into force alongside the Care Act last year. However, the findings indicate the situation has improved. An investigation by Unison last year found just 7% of councils made it a contractual obligation to pay staff for their travel time.

‘It’s a scandal that more than 200,000 care workers are receiving illegal wages of less than £6.70,’ said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

‘More councils might now be insisting that homecare contracts ensure payment for travel time, but there’s still too many that don’t.

‘This shows just how little local authorities value care staff who do such a vital job looking after the elderly and disabled. Councils shouldn’t be awarding contracts to firms without ensuring they’re prepared to pay travel time. And the Government should be putting more resources into a social care system that is already at crisis point.

‘The law makes it absolutely clear that staff must be paid for any time spent travelling to and from the homes of the people they care for. The Government and councils must act now to put a stop to the shocking treatment of this dedicated and hardworking group of employees.’

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