Socialist Worker

Care workers celebrate court victory over low pay

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2723

Workers help people to keep living in their own homes - but often arent paid for travel time

Workers help people to keep living in their own homes - but often aren't paid for travel time (Pic: AveryHealthcare)


A tribunal has exposed the unfair pay faced by many low paid care workers.

A group of care workers have won a significant legal victory that ruled they should be paid for time spent travelling between clients.

Dave Prentis, Unison union general secretary said, “This is a major victory for these dedicated workers who dared to take on their employers. Their long struggle is nothing short of heroic.”

The ten workers, who were supported by Unison, have won around £10,000 each in the employment tribunal ruling.

It found that Haringey council in north London outsourced contracts to private firms who were paying some care staff less than half the minimum wage.

Kaamil Education Limited, Diligent Care Services Limited and Premier Carewaiting Limited have been ordered to pay out more than £100,000 in backdated earnings.

Worker Louise Jones was visiting up to 15 clients daily. But she wasn’t getting paid for every part of her working day.

She said she hopes the outcome inspires other workers in a similar situation.

“It’s been a long fight but it’s great the case has come good in the end,” she said. “My hope is the decision will help other homeware workers receive the same justice.

“I love my work—I like to help people and see them happy, especially those who are vulnerable. I worked every day through the pandemic which wasn’t easy, but it’s a vital job.”

Hours

The penny-pinching working practices saw the workers, many of them black women, work for under half the legal minimum hourly rate. This was despite working as many as 14 hours a day.

The judgement said that travelling and writing time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time.

Homecare workers have battled to provide vital support to their clients throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Their skills and experience meant people could continue to live in their own homes rather than care homes.

Care workers are underpaid and undervalued by the private contractors who try to deliver necessary public services as cheaply as possible.

Worker Jess Williams said, “People think the job just involves giving out tablets or a cup of tea. But you have to be a doctor, nurse and social worker.

“Care workers aren’t valued. We’ve been treated like we were nobody. It’s been daunting bringing this case. But I believe in justice and we supported each other to the end.”

The outcome of the four-year legal battle could open the floodgates to many more unfair pay claims.

Prentis said, “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.”

Workers’ names have been changed

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