Jason Beattie writing in the Daily Mirror regarding a study which reveals “wage theft” is costing care workers a total of £130million a year.
Penny-pinching practices by tight-fisted bosses mean 160,000 employees lose an average of £815 a year, according to the Resolution Foundation think-tank.
Employers manage to claw back the cash by failing to pay staff for the time they spend travelling between visits, on-call time, training sessions and uniforms.
but the scale of this “wage theft” could be much higher as the study published to day, does not include many other illegal deductions, such as charging staff for pay slips.
Another recent study found some 60 per cent of England’s 685,000 home care workers are on zero-hours contracts.
The unfavourable conditions mean that staff turnover in the industry is 21 per cent – more than twice the national average.
The United Kingdom Home Care Association says care workers should be paid at least £15.74 an hour to cover the cost of transport and travel time. But last year the average wage for most carers in England was £12.26 an hour.
Some carers have had to pay for their uniforms and their own Disclosure and Barring Service, a criminal records check required by employers.
The Unison union reports that some workers have been charged £7 on advances of £20 for petrol costs – which would be equivalent to an APR of 17,000 per cent.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is criminal that care workers are not paid for the time they spend travelling and on call between appointments.
“Care firms who engage in this penny-pinching practice must be publicly named and shamed.”
“This being the case, it’s another issue where all those complying to good practice have their reputation blemished by bad”
One of the main reasons there is such a crisis in hospitals is that a large number of elderly people are occupying beds because they can’t be sent home.
And the reason they can’t is that the home care system is collapsing.
There is terrible pressure on carers which leads to them having almost no time to spend with people in desperate need.
Gillian Demet has turned whistleblower because she thinks what is happening to care needs to be exposed.
She tells how she had just 15 minutes to look after each of her clients – 15 minutes in which she might, typically, have to get someone out of bed, undress them, wash them, dress them, make their breakfast, give it to them – and then dash off to do it all over again. And she worked 14 hours some days for the minimum wage.
Yet Gillian’s main concern isn’t the pressure she was under but the impact on her clients.
Incredibly, her boss at private care firm Sevacare, Ravi Bains, agrees with her about the inadequacy of the service. He says such short visits are unfair on carers and those they are looking after.
Mr Bains is just as forthright in saying where the blame lies – with government cuts.
The amount spent on home care has plummeted by 25 per cent since the coalition came to power and will fall much lower if the Tories win the election.
David Cameron’s big campaign pitch is that we can’t afford to spend more. On the contrary, Prime Minister – we can’t afford to spend so little on some things, with home care at the top of the list.
This is an appalling way to treat the most vulnerable, needy pensioners.
“All of our health and care sectors are in crisis now – what on earth the future holds is anyone’s guess – but be prepared, it looks certain to get worse, if it ever gets better – ‘Care in the Community’, what was that?”
Sunday Mirror. 18/01/2015. P.14