Commenting on the government’s new scheme for social care employers that sets out to address the problems where sleep-in staff have not been paid the minimum wage, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:
“This scheme helps no-one. The care system is creaking at the seams, and no-one wants to see it plunged further into crisis. But without sufficient numbers of care workers and a substantial injection of cash from the government that’s exactly what will happen. Then elderly people and vulnerable adults will be left with no-one to look after them.
“Care workers who have been paid illegally low wages over many years shouldn’t have to go months and months before getting back what they’re rightfully owed. Ministers knew for years that sleep-in workers were not being paid properly. If they’d stepped in sooner, this mess could have been avoided.
“Unfortunately the voluntary nature of this scheme means unscrupulous employers will now be able to slip through the net and their staff won’t get a penny back.
“There’s a risk too that firms in other parts of the economy will think that failing to pay the minimum wage is not the serious offence it once was, and that they too might get away with a mere slap on the wrist.
“Meanwhile the country’s overwhelmingly female care workforce will continue to feel unvalued, and the sector will struggle to recruit the staff it needs to deliver quality care.”