Government urged to act after homecare workers ‘major victory’ in four-year legal battle over pay

The Government is being urged to step in to help end the practice of employers not paying care staff for time spent travelling between visits to the sick and elderly following a “major” legal victory.

Unison said a group of homecare workers employed by contractors commissioned by Haringey Council in London will receive an average settlement of around £10,000 each following an employment tribunal ruling.

The decision involving 10 workers follows a four-year legal battle, and has implications for thousands of care staff across the UK who visit vulnerable people in their own homes, said the union.

The judgment said travelling and waiting time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time, said Unison.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a major victory for these dedicated workers who dared take on their employers.

“It’s time the skills and experience of care staff were respected instead of them being underpaid and undervalued.

“These are the very same care staff who were applauded during the lockdown. They shouldn’t have to work in a system that breeds such awful treatment.

“This ruling sends a message to other care bosses that it’s completely unacceptable to pay staff illegal poverty wages. The Government too must get tougher with employers so there’s an end to these law-breaking practices.”

The union will outline demands for urgent reform such as an end to zero-hours contracts in a motion to be debated on Tuesday at the TUC Congress, which is taking place online.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are very clear that social care workers must be paid at least the national minimum wage, with those over 25 earning at least the national living wage, and they should be paid for the time spent caring for clients, travelling to appointments and waiting for them to start.

“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”

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