HUNDREDS of Wigan Council care workers are being underpaid, it was claimed today.
Town Hall bosses, in line with the majority of local authorities, don’t calculate travelling time between clients’ homes into the contracted working hours of staff, insist angry shop stewards.
That means that, when this time is added on to their duties, the pay rate effectively drops below the national minimum wage.
The confirmation comes in data collated by the largest local authority union Unison after a Freedom of Information request to councils including Wigan’s.
Wigan is cited for failing to ensure home care workers are paid the national minimum wage which currently stands at £6.50 an hour. Only six per cent of respondent councils, Unison have established, now make it a contractual condition for care providers to pay workers’ travel time.
Unison says the time taken travelling can take up to approaching a third of a carer’s shift.
A Wigan carer being represented by Unison – who wished to remain anonymous – complained that she was being paid less than the minimum wage because her £7 an hour rate was not enough to cover the two hours she spent each day driving between clients.
The woman, who has since quit, said: “It’s is scandalous what’s going on. I stayed in the job for so long because I felt committed to the people I was looking after. But I had to leave because I couldn’t afford to stay.”
She is one of 18 home carer workers across the borough, confirm Unison, to have taken her case of under-payment to the trade union with union officers claiming she is owed thousands of pounds by the council.
The union’s researchers asked councils whether they ever asked to see pay records or other documentary evidence about the pay of care workers. Only 21 per cent of councils said they did.
Wigan’s assistant director of provider management, Jo Willmott, said: “We are committed to providing an ethical home care system that serves the needs of the people we care for but also rewards staff providing that care appropriately.
“As the research shows, this is a challenge many councils are working hard to deal with.
“We’re working with our partners to get a system that is both sustainable and fair for everyone involved.”