Tory amnesty for social care employers is bid to help them avoid back-paying minimum wage

[Image: iStock].

The minority Tory government’s amnesty for social care companies that have not paid carers properly for sleep-in shifts is a bid to help those firms get around a ruling that they must pay the minimum wage to their workers.

Legal judgements in 2014 – nearly three years ago – mean that an employer who requires workers to a sleep in at their workplace must include that time in calculations for the national minimum wage.

The union Unison reported at the time, for the benefit of its members: “This means that members, and potential members, who sleep in and are low paid, may be entitled to a pay rise and possible back pay.

“This issue will particularly affect low-paid members in the private or community and voluntary sector who do regular sleep-ins.

“However, some employers may not be able to afford a straight pay rise and this could lead to detrimental implications for other terms and conditions.”

The union said its approach was to negotiate with employers to resolve the issue.

From the government’s latest announcement, as reported on This Site, it seems this approach is not working very well.

A commenter, who wishes to remain anonymous but whose profession may be deduced fairly easily, told me: “We are contractually barred from going to the press and very few social care employers recognise unions. Because of this the only voices you hear in the press are the CEOs and they also have sole access to Parliament.

“The union (Unison) understood the financial pressures and [was] ready to negotiate. Yet the employers were in denial and decided to ignore the judgement and tell us in no uncertain terms that we were not entitled to full minimum wage for hours worked. Behind the scenes have been lobbying to retrospectively change legislation through an astroturf group called Learning Disability Voices.

“The stance suddenly changed on April 1, 2017 with top-up payments to meet National Minimum Wage rates. The increase was sold as a goodwill gesture and the accompanying FAQs simply said ‘Am I entitled to back pay?’ ‘No.’ This is still the official internal advice despite the pending enforcement action.

“One weapon used against us in the press is a statistic that only 0.3 per cent of nights are broken. All that means is that extra hours were only claimed for in 0.3 per cent of the sample checked. We could only claim for emergencies and the first hour’s extra time would not be paid. Extra support and broken nights are normal in many services but we just deal with it as part of the job and the flat-rate payment; logged in diaries and even plans but only claimed for in emergency situations.

“The ruling will be difficult to fund but finally makes the job viable long-term. Standard contracts have no increments, career path, unsocial hours payments, food or travel provision. Time off is often in office hours and so is interrupted with communication with managers and cover requests. Since April I can provide for my family which was barely possible before.

“Continuity of support is the single greatest benefit in this game to the people we work with. Remember that sleep-in staff support people who still receive 24/7 trained supervision after decades of cutbacks – we are never there without good reason.”

That is the current situation, it seems. This Site will inform you of further developments as there are legal cases still ongoing.

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1 thought on “Tory amnesty for social care employers is bid to help them avoid back-paying minimum wage

  1. PJB

    Isn’t about time the people to say NO, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I’m surprised the workers haven’t had a mass general strike.

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