Over the past few months, we have all seen the importance of care workers who have put themselves on the front line to provide support to their clients throughout the Coronavirus crisis. However, a recent Employment Tribunal case has now highlighted that, in some instances, care workers are still being underpaid and undervalued. The Employment Tribunal found that care workers, who were employed by a private contractor based in North London, were being unfairly paid £4 an hour; significantly less than minimum wage.
The care workers in this case were not paid for time travelling to and from patient visits and waiting time during their working day (which was often 14 hours long) meaning that their pay was calculated to be £4 an hour. The Court confirmed that care workers should be paid for time travelling to and from patient visits and waiting time (up to 60 minutes). The claimants in this case, the majority of whom are women, will now receive an average settlement in the sum of £10,000 each. For the avoidance of doubt, this case does not change the position when travelling to and from home. Time spent travelling between home and the first and last patient visits still do not require payment of national minimum wage.
This is an important case and serves a useful reminder that employers should ensure that they have policies and procedures in place to ensure care workers can record their time travelling to and from patient visits plus any waiting time (up to 60 minutes) properly and accurately. This will enable employers to ensure care workers are paid for the hours actually worked and their pay does not fall below the national minimum wage. In addition, employers should ensure a care worker’s hours do not exceed the 48-hour average weekly limit in accordance with the Working Time Regulations 1998, unless they have ‘opted out’ of this limit.
By way of a reminder, the government’s national living wage increased on the 1st April 2020 and the national living wage is now:
• £8.72 an hour for over 25s
• £8.20 an hour for people aged between 21 and 24; and
• £6.45 an hour for people aged between 18 and 20
In addition, employers should be mindful that employees who have been on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme prior to the increase in national minimum wage, are entitled to the increase in pay when they return from furlough and therefore employers should ensure their pay is increased accordingly.
If you have any questions in relation to this, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Napthens’ Employment Team.