Paid Care Workers : Not Receiving The Minimum Wage : Age Old Problem ?

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The gist of this article does impact on us ... time actually spent with our carees ... and ... paying for less care ?

Home care firm accused of failing to pay minimum wage.

Nationwide Care Services does not pay workers for time spent travelling between appointments, whistleblowers say.



A firm supplying hundreds of home carers has been accused of failing to pay workers for travel time between appointments, meaning they earn less than the minimum wage, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Whistleblowers allege that Nationwide Care Services, which has eight branches across the Midlands employing more than 400 staff, does not pay its employees for the time taken to get to and from vulnerable people’s homes to provide care. Carers are also pressured to cut short appointments with elderly people to meet “impossible” rota schedules, the whistleblowers claim.

The allegations, which have been vigorously denied by the company, raise concerns over whether this means carers end up being paid less than the legal minimum.

It is understood that many of those working for the firm, which is contracted to provide care paid for by a series of councils as well as private clients, are employed on zero-hours contracts.

It is alleged that some office staff are doctoring logs to make it look as if carers are spending more time in people’s homes than they actually are. “As a result, the people suffer a poor standard of care, which is funded by me and you in the taxes we pay,” one whistleblower said.

It is understood that HMRC is investigating Nationwide Care Services over pay.

After being approached for comment, the firm’s director, Hamait Ali, posted a video on Facebook claiming the allegations against the firm were “totally untrue” and are made by “disgruntled ex-employees”.

Ali told the Guardian that the allegations were a personal attack intended to cause harm to the company’s reputation. He said that the company had never had any formal notice of a wage dispute.

The allegations have surfaced as a leading employment lawyer claimed HMRC is underusing its enforcement powers to sanction companies breaking minimum wage laws, with just seven prosecutions since 2010. According to the government, “travelling in connection with work, including travelling from one work assignment to another” counts as working time.

But one source the Guardian spoke to claimed tha ta carer at Nationwide Care Services was expected to attend nearly 20 appointments in a day, including four and a half hours’ travelling time taking buses and walking – yet they were paid for just nine hours’ work.

This would mean the worker, who was paid £8.92 an hour including a £1 bonus, was paid an average of £5.94 an hour for a shift lasting nearly 14 hours. The minimum wage for those aged 25 and over was £7.83 until April, when it rose to to £8.21.


The firm says on its website that it is “dedicated to providing consistently safe, high-quality, reliable care and support to people”. However, a judge criticised the company last month for its training after one of its carers left a dementia sufferer lying on the ground for two days with a slipper as a pillow.

The shadow minister for social care, Barbara Keeley, said: “The law is clear: time spent travelling between appointments must be paid at least the minimum wage. For any care provider to fail to pay care staff for travelling between appointments is unacceptable, and HMRC must take enforcement action to make sure that care staff are paid as they should be.”

Eileen Chubb, founder of Compassion in Care, a charity that campaigns on behalf of whistleblowers in the industry, added: “If you have a demoralised workforce who aren’t being paid properly, the knock-on effect is that the elderly people that are supposed to being cared for won’t be looked after properly. Vulnerable people deserve care that has been paid for.”

Whistleblowers also alleged that the company relies on inexperienced staff who have to complete gruelling shifts of up to 14 hours a day. “I usually woke up at 5am and ended up back at home at 1am. It was a nightmare,” one ex-carer said.

“They paid only for the time spent in the people’s houses. Some of the rotas were impossible ... I was usually working between 12 and 14 hours and I was being paid, depending how lucky I was, seven, eight, sometimes maybe 10 hours. But usually it was just half the time. If I worked 13 hours, I would be paid around half the time.”

Another ex-employee at the firm added: “The carers don’t last long in the role – long working hours, no travel time, seven days a week. The rotas are unrealistic, which means the care staff will have to cut calls in order to get to the next person on time.

“There is no way they can deliver the actual duration of the care call.”

Rakesh Patel, head of employment rights strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The firm appears to be in breach of the National Minimum Wage Act by failing to pay workers for travel time between assignments.”

Patel added: “The use of its enforcement powers has been pitifully underused by HMRC. The government should be doing more to enforce basic rights like the minimum wage.”

On his Facebook post, Ali invited employees or clients of the company to come forward with complaints. He did not comment on allegations that the firm failed to pay employees for travel time between appointments or the claim that the company is in breach of minimum wage law.

Ali said Nationwide is a “fully compliant entity in all areas”. He added that the company has been rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission and respective authorities.

HMRC said it could not comment on individual businesses, but a government spokesman said: “HMRC continues to crack down on employers who ignore the law, ensuring that workers receive the wages they are legally entitled to. Workers must be paid at least the national minimum wage or national living wage when travelling from one work assignment to another.”


Forthcoming Green Paper on Social Care.

Given that the trade unions have more clout , it is highly likely that the underlying issue as outlined above will be addressed.

Having said that , expect more carnage in this sector as lower margins will mean Armageddon for many private operators ...
and cause further financial misery for the LAs.

Should be a " Good " read ... once it's published ???
Interesting post Chris. When mum had carers we reimbursed the LA based on time period allotted for care, e.g., 30 or 45 minutes a visit. I don't think the carers were paid for travel time.

Also with one agency, mum had the same carer for all four visits, so the carer was putting in well over 10 hours a day, more like 13.
It is not unlawful for care workers to have their travel time between appointments unpaid, so long as their total pay averages out at or above the appropriate minimum wage rate once travel time is factored in.


For a much fuller take on this issue :

https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/dis ... re-workers

If anyone wants to explore the above link , be prepared for a LONG read !
For now, I'll take your word for it!
Not mine ... just ask UNISON :

UNISON says it should be the government, and HMRC in particular, making sure that employers are paying a legal wage. ... UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “ Homecare workers support the elderly and vulnerable across the UK, yet they continue to be paid below the minimum wage."


https://www.unison.org.uk/news/magazine ... nt-add-up/


Homecare workers, illegal payments and when the sums just don’t add up.



It used to take Judith Montgomery three and a half hours to earn two hours’ pay.

That’s because Judith was a homecare worker, and her employer had decided not to pay her for the time she spent travelling between her visits to elderly and disabled people.

Judith is one of the estimated tens of thousands of homecare workers not being paid for their travel time. Homecare workers spend their entire day making visits to people who need care; they are constantly on the move.

And government guidance is clear that they should be paid for this: “Unless they are genuinely self-employed, then workers in most circumstances should be paid at least the national minimum wage when travelling directly from one work assignment to another.”


But most employers ignore this guidance – and pay nothing for travel time. As a result homecare workers find that, averaged over the course of their very long days, their basic pay doesn’t even reach the national minimum.

UNISON believes that this is a scandal, and is urging the government to end the systematic underpayment that it believes is widespread in the sector, by tweaking minimum wage 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’s difficult for them to challenge their employers, says UNISON.

UNISON also wants to see HMRC publish the report – commissioned by the government over a year ago – into six major care companies and potential breaches of minimum wage laws.

Most homecare employees work in isolation and rarely see colleagues, so it’s difficult for them to compare their experiences. And even when companies are successfully challenged by individuals over their failure to pay for travel time, these tend to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

If caught out for failing to pay for travel time, firms seldom make amends and correct the payments across the whole of the workforce.

Judith Montgomery’s case highlights the issue of unpaid travel time. The 53-year-old grandmother from Bury was illegally underpaid by her employer Sevacare for two years. She would often start work at 7am and not finish until 10.30pm. “I’d be on the go all day for six or seven hours’ pay. I was shattered and it took a toll on my health.”

Judith is no longer a homecare worker; she now works in residential care. Her days of being illegally underpaid are over, but they’re not quite forgotten.

Knowing that she was working more hours than she was being paid for, Judith went to talk to the rep at her local UNISON branch in Bolton. They thought Judith had a legal claim, and helped her with the paperwork for a tribunal.

The tribunal resulted in Judith receiving a £3,250 settlement from her former employer.

She’s now keen to encourage other homecare workers to challenge their employers. “It’s very difficult to stand up to your employer when you’re a care worker,” she says. “If you’re on a zero hours contract, you’re vulnerable to being given fewer hours if you raise any issues with managers.

“I don’t want companies getting away with it. I want other people working in home care to know that they can get what they’re entitled to, with the support of their union.”

UNISON says it should be the government, and HMRC in particular, making sure that employers are paying a legal wage. And when firms are caught not paying the minimum wage because they don’t pay for travel time, HMRC should step in to ensure that appropriate payments are made to the rest of the staff.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Homecare workers support the elderly and vulnerable across the UK, yet they continue to be paid below the minimum wage. The government promised to act, but so far ministers have abjectly failed to help these low-paid workers.

“Judith’s case shows just how companies can profit by denying staff payment for their travel time. The government should be doing far more to ensure these firms meet their legal obligations across the board.”
Never heard of any care company paying for travel time between clients!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Challenge you to find me one that does .
Not me ... I'm merely the underpaid , overworked bearer of bad tidings ... one for UNISON to field ?

One from another angle ... CorporateWatch :
Care workers face many obstacles when trying to get a fair deal on pay. Trade union organisation is rare, employers are hammering down on costs, the government shows little appetite to regulate the (largely privatised) social care industry – and the courts are out of reach to many.

When ‘Mark’ worked providing support, care and assistance to elderly people in their homes, his employment contract said he would be paid £7.50 an hour. He’s since left the company, fed up of feeling exploited by a firm trying to cash in on this vital, hard, stressful work.

One of the reasons he felt hard done by was that he wasn’t even being paid the rate the company had promised. In practice he’s pretty sure he was getting less than the minimum wage, then £6.70 an hour.

The thorny question for Mark and thousands of other care workers is whether they are being paid for the time it takes them to travel between care appointments. This should be standard practice: an office worker doesn’t get paid going from home to the office, but would expect to be paid for the time spent travelling from the office to meet a client in the middle of the day.

Mark’s payslips told him how much he was paid for the hours he spent with ‘clients’. But they didn’t show how much time he spent travelling between appointments. Or whether he was paid for that. So he knew what he was getting in total every two weeks but not how many hours he was being paid for. And as a result he didn’t know his hourly rate.

He told Corporate Watch :

“I don’t think it is fair that our payslips don’t say what we are actually being paid for. If I worked at Tesco I would be paid an hourly rate. That doesn’t happen here.”

Around 220,000 care workers are reckoned to be paid below the legal minimum wage. Investigations of care providers between 2011 and 2015 by the regulator HMRC found that 41% were guilty of not paying the minimum wage. The government has done precious little about this. The Unison trade union says just 36, mainly smaller, providers have been “named and shamed” as part of a much-trumpeted crackdown.

However, many of the bigger care companies – including Allied Healthcare, Care UK and MiHomecare – have faced negative publicity for under-paying their workers. Increasingly care workers are taking legal action themselves. Sevacare, the fourth biggest care company, was taken to court last month for paying workers less than the minimum wage, in part due to not paying travel time.

In response to increased public scrutiny, some companies have started paying for some travel time, but not as much as they should. MiHomecare, for example, has increased its pay rates, stung by negative publicity and being taken to court by one of its workers. The higher rates mean it is no longer paying workers below the minimum wage – but it is still not directly paying its workers for their travel time. They are being paid for their care hours at a rate that, when the travel time is included, keeps them just above the minimum wage.

For example, if someone on £9 an hour spends 35 hours caring for people in their homes, they will be paid £315. But add the ten hours she spent travelling between calls that week and that £315 is actually paying for 43 hours of work, which means she is being paid an effective rate of just £7.32 an hour.

This lets the company off the hook with HMRC – which only gets involved when minimum wage legislation has been breached – but renders meaningless the rate care workers are told they will get when they join the company.

Another care worker told Corporate Watch he had contacted HMRC for assistance but had been told the regulator only intervened in cases where minimum wage law had been breached.

Earlier this year we met care workers who had chosen to join MiHomecare because of the higher rate offered compared to its competitors. However, they left when they realised that their chosen company was, unlike its rival, not paying travel time as a separate item but simply ensuring their pay rates were above minimum wage when travel time was added on to the hours they spent with clients.

If workers can find a solicitor they may be entitled take their employer to court for not paying the contractual rate. But employment tribunal fees and a lack of solicitors willing to take such a cases on make this option beyond the reach of many.

To further confuse things, what constitutes travel time means different things to different people. Some companies only count time spent on the road when calculating travel hours.

But this was not the interpretation used in the judgement from the 2013 court case that created the precedent for travel time claims, known as ‘Whittlestone vs BJP’, in which a care worker successfully took action against her employer for not paying her for travel time, among other things.

Judge Langstaff, then head of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, said time between visits on a care worker’s rota should be paid, unless “the Claimant might have had so long between the end of one assignment and the next as to return home”.

As such, when a worker has a short gap between appointments, they should be paid for the full gap, not just the actual amount of time spent travelling. For example, if there is a 15 minute gap between appointments but it only takes five minutes to travel between them, care workers should still be paid for the full 15 minutes as they do not have time to go home or do anything else ‘for themselves’ in between.

This could have a significant effect on the pay of workers, especially those in urban areas where actual travel distances are short. If you have a ten minute gap between appointments on the same street, there’s not much you can do inbetween other than wait. But if you have a few calls like this a day, and those nine minutes spent hanging around are never included, the money lost will soon add up.

Having to constantly second guess your employer and calculate your actual pay rate is time-consuming – and exactly what care workers don’t need after a physically and emotionally tiring day. It’s just one example of how home care companies, with the tacit support of central government and the local councils who commission these firms, have taken advantage of lax regulation to keep their staff costs down.
These issues have been going on for years. This article below is from 2016
https://corporatewatch.org/understandin ... avel-time/

Personally I can see the situation getting worse before it gets better, if it gets better. There is far too many companies making obscene profits from care, at a time when we need more investment not less. I know many women/men locally that have left a paid caring job they loved doing, due to the conditions round their pay.

x x

Sorry Chris, just realised the segment you used was from Corporate watch too :blush: :P
Yep ... will continue to drag on ... and on.

Sleepovers ... a very bad decision ... still waiting for news of a proposal appeal.

( As such , not such a concept of a 24 / 7 family carer anymore ... must deduct time sleeping ! )


Advice to all apprentice care workers ?

Buy a stop watch and a pair of skates ... ice ones for the winter ... perhaps skis for those hill climbs ?

Your future career will depend on them !

( Not forgetting ... of course ... getting a job almost dead easy ... 1 applicant for every 2 / 3 vacancies ... and no ,
I won't post yet another link to an existing thread ... for once ! )

( See what happens when I stop for a mug of coffee ?

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... 20shortage )