PUBLIC-SERVICE union Unison won an important victory yesterday after a home-care privateer was found to be paying its workers less than the minimum wage.
Staff at MiHomecare, were notionally paid the legal minimum, but the company did not pay for the time they spent travelling between clients’ homes — meaning that they received less than the minimum wage, Unison said.
MiHomecare, which provides home-care services in Swansea and Carmarthenshire, carried out a review and said it had found “some errors in calculating travel-time pay” and has agreed to pay staff for travel time. It will also pay back-dated wages of up to £2,500.
Home-care workers provide vital support to vulnerable people, such as the elderly and disabled, in their homes, but local authorities have been forced by the government to hand provision of such services to the private sector.
Although the agreement affects only around 100 staff, it could have implications for thousands more with MiHomecare, which employs around 6,000 people, and other privateers.
Unison Cymru Wales area organiser Richie Lewis said: “This is a really positive, welcome step.
“Unison has long campaigned for home-care workers to be paid travel time and has developed an ethical-care charter.
“We are pleased MiHomecare is rectifying systemic errors and value their staff.
“Home-carers work long hours under increasingly difficult conditions and it is often the case that they end up out of pocket in order to provide the level of care that their clients need.
“Other private-sector home care providers should conduct a similar review of their processes to ensure that their staff are paid in accordance with UK law.”
MiHomecare, part of outsourcing corporation Mitie, said it had completed a comprehensive review of payments for all its care workers to be absolutely certain that they were treated fairly and that the company complied with wage legislation.
“We have found some errors in calculating travel-time pay and we have decided to make a one-off payment to all affected people,” the company admitted.
An estimated 883,000 people in England and Wales receive home care and around 500,000 workers are employed in the sector.