MPs have been trying for months to close the loophole in which care workers are not paid for the time when they’re travelling to a job
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The “national disgrace” of home care workers being paid less than the minimum wage due to travel time must be tackled, Labour has said.
Around 250,000 home care workers in England are thought to be on zero hours contracts – the vast majority being women and employed by private firms via their council.
But a widespread practice within the sector means many staff aren’t paid for the journey time between houses of the sick and elderly they care for.
In September 2020, home care workers working for contractors commissioned by Haringey Council got £10,000 in backdated pay after companies not paying staff for travel time were found to have broken the law.
In that case, staff were working for up to 14 hours a day for wages that worked out at under half the legal minimum hourly rate.
Labour frontbenchers Angela Rayner and Thangam Debbonaire have written to Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg urging him to make parliamentary time for a debate on home care pay after he ignored demands to do so.
A Private Members’ Bill aimed at closing the travel time loophole had been scheduled for a debate in January but the Tory minister cancelled, says Labour.
Deputy leader Ms Rayner, who was a home care worker before becoming an MP, 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.
“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.”
Unison, which represents many care workers, has also called on the Government to step up.
General secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s a national scandal that care workers continue to receive less than the minimum wage. Frontline workers are being exploited and ministers must make time to deal with this immediately.
“Ending the unscrupulous practices that blight the care sector cannot come soon enough. This includes not only action on low pay, but the use of zero-hours contracts and inadequate sick pay.”
The Mirror has contacted the Government for comment.