Labour demands end to ‘loophole’ that means care workers are not paid for travelling time

Care workers are earning less than the minimum wage thanks to a “loophole” that means they are not paid for time travelling between visits, Labour has said.

The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner (pictured) has demanded a vote on legislation introduced by Labour’s Liverpool MP Paula Barker that would see this loophole closed, describing the situation as “a scandal”.

She said: “It is a national disgrace that care workers are being paid less than the legal minimum wage, never mind a fair wage that they can live on.

“Labour will end this scandal and treat our social care heroes with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

In September 2020, a group of homecare workers employed by contractors for Haringey Council received £10,000 each after a tribunal decided that companies not paying staff for time spent travelling between care visits were breaking the law.

Christina McAnea, general secretary of the Unison trade union, which helped the care workers with their case, said: “Ending the unscrupulous practices that blight the care sector cannot come soon enough. That includes not only action on low pay, but the use of zero-hours contracts and inadequate sick pay.

“The Government also needs to be ambitious about desperately needed reform of the sector. Not just remedying the shocking pay and conditions but creating a world-class national care service of which we can all be proud.”

Ms Barker’s proposed legislation would require councils to check whether their social care providers are paying staff the minimum wage and terminate contracts with those that do not.

It had been due to be debated in January as a Private Members’ Bill, the name given to legislation brought forward by backbench MPs rather than the Government.

But while seven of the eight Private Members’ Bills granted a debate became law, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg cancelled further debates on Private Members’ Bills before Ms Barker’s could be considered in January.

In a letter to Mr Rees-Mogg, Ms Rayner and shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said he had “effectively blocked” the Bill from passing.

Ms Rayner said: “Government ministers clapped for our carers for a photo opportunity but then they sold them out.

“The very least the Government can do for our carers is to pass a very simple piece of legislation to close this loophole and ensure carers are paid the legal minimum wage to which they are entitled to.”

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