UNISON urges councils to ensure care staff are properly paid

Call comes after the government ‘names and shames’ companies in England and Wales for flouting minimum wage legislation

Elderly woman with carer

UNISON is urging councils in England and Wales to be “far more proactive” in ensuring that there is a high standard of homecare provision in their local area, after details emerged of five businesses that have been flouting minimum wage law.

The care companies that have been ‘named and shamed’ by the government include:

  • Millennium Care Ltd of Neath Port Talbot – commissioned by Neath Port Talbot Council – failed to pay £28,871.77 to 40 workers;
  • APC Care Limited of Wealden – commissioned by East Sussex Council – failed to pay £6,311.6 to 39 workers;
  • A1 Home Care Ltd of Chelmsford – commissioned by Essex Council and Brent – failed to pay £3,774.46 to 24 workers;
  • Danum Homecare Ltd of Doncaster – commissioned by Doncaster and Wakefield councils – failed to pay £1,516 to 13 workers;
  • Ms Deborah Harrison, trading as Kingfisher Care Services, Redditch Borough Council, B97 – commissioned by Worcestershire Council – failed to pay £558.79 to two workers.

These employers have been made to pay what they owed, to staff, while also being fined £3.2 million.

In total, government investigations revealed that more than £2.1m was owed by 191 companies across sectors, to more than 34,000 workers.

UNISON national officer for social care, Matt Egan, said: “We are urging local councils to be far more proactive in ensuring that there is a high standard of homecare provision in their local area.

“While the vast majority of councils across the UK now outsource homecare services, they can still insist on standards that will improve standards of care and result in better treatment of these vital workers.”

And Mr Egan noted that the union’s Ethical Care Charter, “if properly adopted”, means that homecare workers are paid for all their travel time and are paid the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage.

“We know that better rates of pay for care workers mean that fewer people leave their jobs, which allows them to build up better and longer lasting relationships with the people they care for.

“It also reduces the problem of homecare workers cutting short their visits to people’s homes because they are not paid for all their working time. It is a win-win for both the workforce and the people they care for.”

UNISON says that these failures highlight the fact that commissioning councils have a responsibility to comply with employment law, including that relating to payment of the minimum wage.

By failing to keep tabs on whether contracted homecare providers are paying their workers properly, commissioning councils risk problems like higher staff turnover rates and visits being cut short, all of which directly contribute to lower standards of care for care users.

Full details of all employers that flouted minimum wage laws