Care workers paid below minimum wage

Some domiciliary care workers are being paid as little as £5 an hour – well below the legal minimum wage – according to a report from the Resolution Foundation think tank. The study looked at the 'work diaries' and payslips of care workers doing home visits, showing how their real pay levels often fail to reflect the hours they work.

Key points

  • Out of an estimated 2 million care workers in the UK, 830,000 are domiciliary care workers, carrying out home visits. The report estimates that as many as 220,000 of these workers may be being paid less than the minimum wage.
  • Even though their headline pay rates may be set at or above the national minimum wage (currently £6.19 an hour), in practice care workers often receive less than this.
  • Workers often lose at least £1 an hour because they are not paid for the time spent travelling between appointments. In addition, providing decent care often takes longer than the time allocated by the employer for each visit.
  • This means that, over the course of a year, a care worker who works an average of 35 hours a week for 48 weeks loses pay totalling more than £1,600.
  • The enforcement regime for the national minimum wage puts the onus on workers to raise a complaint against their employer – something vulnerable care workers are often unwilling to do.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to tighten enforcement, including tougher penalties for care companies that break the law and a greater role for local authorities in monitoring compliance.

: Matthew Pennycook, Does It Pay to Care? Under-Payment of the National Minimum Wage in the Social Care Sector, Resolution Foundation
LinksReport | Resolution press release | ADASS press release | UNISON press release | Community Care report | Guardian report

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