Homecare workers must be paid for travel between visits, ministers told

The Government must clamp down on homecare companies that do not pay staff for travel time between house visits, ministers have been told.

Labour MP Paula Barker (Liverpool Wavertree) called on the Government to end the practice of carers only being paid for the time they spend at clients’ homes.

She claimed about half of such care workers were not paid the national minimum wage because they missed out on travel time pay during work hours.

Ms Barker told the Commons: “The scale of the issue cannot be downplayed. A pre-pandemic article published in January 2019 by the organisation Homecare found that over half of homecare workers are paid less than the national minimum wage, because employers are not properly paying for travel time between visits.

“It is that time, travelling between visits, that is the crux of the issue here.

“Over 50% of England’s local authorities do not state in their contracts that firms must pay employees for travel time between visits, according to a freedom of information request.

“Furthermore, a survey of homecare workers revealed that 63% are only paid for the time spent in people’s homes.

“Ultimately this means that for too many care workers, hourly paid rates fall well short of the Government’s national living wage and takes many under the threshold of the national minimum wage.”

The Labour MP called for councils across England to be given more enforcement powers to deal with the issue, as she urged MPs to back her National Minimum Wage Bill.

Ms Barker, who represents the Labour frontbench as a shadow communities minister, told the Commons: “For commissioned domiciliary services, local councils can – if given the powers – be the body that delivers pay transparency, minimum and effective pay assurances, with real enforcement in defence of workers.

“Some councils are already doing this to some degree but others are not.

“The Government are very well versed in redefining and defining the roles and responsibilities of local government, so why not provide in respect of homecare workers a statutory footing that avoids a patchy postcode lottery?

“In a sector that is deeply troubled with issues around recruitment and retention, my Bill would represent a genuine opportunity for the Government to clamp down on malpractice.

“Whilst no disrespect is intended to workers in other sectors, the home care market should not be losing workers to Tesco, Amazon, Nando’s and the like, but it is as we speak.”

The Bill is due to be considered by the Commons again on November 24, but is unlikely to become law because of a lack of parliamentary time.

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