Home care: Low paid workers told to wait for back pay

Government move a ‘cruel blow’ to carers denied the minimum wage for sleep-ins

Care workers owed up to six years’ back pay after being paid less than the minimum wage will have to wait until at least October for the money they are owed after a government announcement this week.

UNISON Dave Prentis reacted sharply to the government ‘compromise’, calling it “a huge blow for low-paid workers”.

The issue comes after two employment tribunal cases over how much care workers providing overnight care to vulnerable people and ‘sleeping in’ should be paid.

This ruled that they were entitled to the legal minimum wagethroughout their shift.

Following the rulings, some 200 organisations employing carers – some of which are charities – were liable to pay up to six years back pay to their workers who were underpaid.

The total bill has been estimated at between £160m and £400m and the government has given the employers extra time to pay up, after many said they faced bankruptcy.

It also wrote off historic fines and penalties for underpayment before today.

“Each year, care workers are collectively cheated of £130m in wages,” noted Mr Prentis, “but this outrageous state of affairs has failed to prompt any meaningful reaction from the government.

“Now ministers see fit to cave in for employers, many of whom have been ruthlessly exploiting care workers for years.”

He noted that “there is nothing in the government’s plans that sets out how ministers will ensure care staff get the money they are owed.

“It sends out a message to care workers that they are of little value.”