Local MP Katy Clark (pictured) has revealed that around 160,000 social care workers across the UK are receiving less than the minimum wage.
The staff are mainly employed by private contractors delivering care packages on behalf of councils who have outsourced services in an attempt to save money after available funding was slashed by UK Government cuts.
Although being paid the minimum rate of £6.50-an-hour, workers have found that many employers do not count ‘travel time’ as part of the working day. This means staff are only paid while providing direct care to ‘clients’ and receive nothing for the time it takes to travel between appointments. Excluding ‘travel time’, despite this forming an essential part of the service for which private companies have been contracted, results in staff receiving hourly pay for the total time spent at work that falls short of the minimum legal rate.
The Resolution Foundation, a think tank involved in attempting to improve the living standards of low-paid workers, estimates social care staff are losing an average of £815 per year because employers are refusing to pay ‘travel time’ between appointments with clients.
Commenting on the practice, Katy Clark said, “The minimum wage is a basic right and it is wrong that many care workers in Scotland are not receiving it.
“Travelling between homes is an important part of a care worker’s duties and it is vital they are paid for this time. The [UK] Government must ensure that all care workers are paid a fair wage.”
Ms Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran, says there is a need for urgent action “to deal with the problem of low pay in general,” adding, “Under this Tory-led Government, thousands of people are being paid less than the minimum wage, but there hasn’t been a single prosecution for minimum wage non-compliance in Scotland.”