09/10/2011 - Minimum Wage: Are care workers being short-changed?

The Panorama programme 'All work and no pay' last Monday (3/10)  highlighted how hundreds of thousands of workers are being denied their right to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The documentary explored the various professions and companies that were exploiting their workforce and that left them putting in many hours for minimal pay. The workers involved were varied, including Charity 'chuggers', onion-pickers, marketeers nightwatchmen to care workers. The excuses in not paying them at least the NMW was just as varied: 'Commission only', 'piece work', 'internships', 'flat payments', 'cash-in-hand' and 'self-employed'. As an Employment Barrister pointed out however it was still 'illegal' if the end result was a pay lower than the NMW i.e. £6.08/hour.
As the programme pointed out the employers were often 'anonymous' and when challenged disappeared behind accommodation addresses or PO Boxes. They often preyed upon the vulnerable i.e. students, the young unemployed and migrant workers. It was also pointed out how the Authorities responsible for enforcing the law were 'toothless' and had only carried out seven prosecutions!
Care Workers short changed
One area of interest to Solidarity was the case of Care Workers. Many are not being paid for having to travel to assignments but crucially were not getting the NMW for 'sleepovers', some receiving a flat payment and some nothing at all. Our Trade Union has experience in this field (see and through the use of Case Law has proved that workers doing sleepovers in Care Homes (and elsewhere) MUST be paid the NMW.
Solidarity South-West Regional Organiser Glen Nicklasson said "There are over 200,000 care workers that always or sometimes carry out sleepovers. Many of these are being shortchanged by their employer. It is not fair and not acceptable!".
Solidarity urges anyone who is in this situation to contact us urgently at [email protected] We can get you justice!