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29th April 2013

Is low pay driving a culture of poor care?

Care workers paid less than minimum wage

The Independent ran an interesting article on how some employers are cheating workers by avoiding paying the minimum wage. In cases where the minimum wage is paid, other tactics are used to depress wages and expense payments.

One of the cases highlighted was that of a domiciliary care worker. Paid at a rate of £7.50 an hour, the care worker was not paid for travelling time between care appointments. Paid for 43.5 hours out of a total working week, including travelling time of 54 hours, brought the equivalent hourly rate down to £6.04. The worker has calculated that for one particular shift the hourly equivalent rate she received was £4.81.

For using her own vehicle to drive 308 miles, this worker’s fuel allowance was paid at a rate significantly below HMRC’s Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP) rate. This is 45p for this particular vehicle, but she was paid at 20 pence, the rate for using a bicycle. While 20 pence per mile may just cover fuel, it certainly cannot cover the full costs of wear and tear, road tax and insurance.

Naturally, the worker has complained and has been told that this is how it works nationally and that it is impossible to compete against other local contractors if travelling time is paid. This worker also estimates that 80 percent of carers in the private and 20 percent in the public sector are in the same position.

She believes that she is fortunate to hold a GNVQ2. She states that without this qualification other workers at her company are paid £6.70 an hour, and that for a shift like hers this would create an equivalent hourly rate of less than £4. What determines such low pay? Is it the desire for increased profit for service providers? Is it the slashing of the public purse? Or is it severely limited budgets for local authority contracts?

Fair HR processes with QCS compliance management

Whatever is responsible, it is difficult to reconcile low levels of pay with the need to provide high standards of care. Poor pay creates financial difficulty, low morale and damages staff retention. Workers may adopt a less caring attitude, especially if they feel they are exploited, and a culture of ‘doing the bare minimum’ may take hold.

QCS compliance management helps to combat poor morale by ensuring that HR process are discharged fairly and that service providers are not open to HR related litigation. Fair treatment helps to combat a culture of ‘doing the bare minimum’, helping to preserve caring attitudes.

The QCS HR Module is a highly valued and popular part of our compliance management system which provides structure and peace of mind for the processes of managing care workers. It contains everything you need treat workers fairly and protect your organisation, including policies and procedures for Absence, Holidays and Sickness, Contracts of Employment, Equality and Disability, Job Descriptions, Performance and Discipline, Recruitment, Induction and Training.

Click here to register for a FREE trial to see how QCS compliance management lets health and social care providers undertake HR processes with ease.

Click here to read the article ‘Scandal of firms that dodge paying the minimum wage’ at

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