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Do you pay your staff for travel time?
Paying staff for travel time, particularly within the domiciliary care sector, has been the subject of recent publicity after an internal company review by one of the largest care providers in the UK suggested it had failed to pay the National Minimum Wage. This is because the provider had not been paying staff for travel between appointments with clients.
In this particular scenario, the care provider’s review identified a practice described as “clipping” – where care appointments are scheduled back to back but no travel time scheduled between visits. This resulted in visits being cut short or “clipped” with the carer expected to travel within the allotted time for the visit meaning the length of care visits would vary.
Domiciliary care providers under scrutiny
HM Revenue & Customs is already investigating six of the country’s largest social care providers regarding compliance with the HMRC and we have already had a number of clients within that sector receiving grievances/complaints from staff (advised by legal advisers) about pay for travel time between clients.
Furthermore, a recent opinion from the Attorney General, in a case which is progressing through the European Court of Justice, has suggested that travel time from a worker’s home to their first customer/client should also be classed as working time and which would mean the National Minimum Wage should be paid for that time as well! This opinion is yet to be confirmed by the Court but the opinion is usually adopted.
This decision also would apply to “peripatetic” workers, i.e. those who travel from place to place and don’t really have a fixed place of work. If this opinion is followed by the European Court of Justice, then this is likely to have an impact on domiciliary care providers who require care staff to travel to their first client from their home, and then return home directly after leaving their last client.
Inevitably this means more cost to the business.
Care providers are encouraged to audit their arrangements for the payment of staff whilst travelling between clients as well as travelling to and from their first and last job.
Oliver McCann, Employment Partner, Napthens LLP – QCS Expert Employment Law Contributor