Tens of thousands of homecare workers in England and Wales are still being paid less than the minimum wage, according to a recent report from Unison.
Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show that 76 percent of councils are failing to ensure care providers are paying employees for time spent travelling between appointments.
Unison says this effectively means that more than three-quarters of councils are in breach of the Care Act, which clearly states that homecare workers must be paid for the time they spend on the road.
The UK Homecare Association estimates that homecare workers spend 20 percent of each working day travelling between appointments.
According to the report – Calling Time on Illegal Wages in the Homecare Sector – care workers in Wales are fairing the worst, where more than nine in ten care workers are not being fairly renumerated.
The findings represent a very small improvement on 2014, when between 160,000 and 220,000 homecare workers were paid below the minimum wage, but doesn’t escape the reality that many councils and homecare providers remain in breach of legal legislation.
Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “It’s a scandal that more than 200,000 care workers are receiving illegal wages of less than £6.70. More councils might now be insisting that homecare contracts ensure payment for travel time, but there’s still too many that don’t.
“This shows just how little local authorities value care staff who do such a vital job looking after the elderly and disabled. Councils shouldn’t be awarding contracts to firms without ensuring they’re prepared to pay travel time.
“And the government should be putting more resources into a social care system that is already at crisis point.
“The law makes it absolutely clear that staff must be paid for any time spent travelling to and from the homes of the people they care for.
“The government and councils must act now to put a stop to the shocking treatment of this dedicated and hardworking group of employees.”