Laura Sharman 29 October 2014

Councils urged to tackle 'scandal' of care workers’ pay

The majority of councils in England and Wales are failing to ensure homecare providers pay their staff the minimum wage, according to new figures.

The freedom of information request, conducted by Unison, found that 93% of councils do not make it a contractual condition that homecare providers pay workers for travel time. Of the councils responding, 799% also said they do not ask to see pay records to check for National Minimum Wage compliance.

Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: ‘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.’

The trade union is calling for statutory guidance to be introduced outlining what steps councils must take to ensure service providers are not paying below the National Minimum Wage. It also wants transparency around the rates council pay their providers and for spot inspections on payroll records to take place.

The union has also written to all councils, asking them to sign up to the union's Ethical Care Charter.

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