Government Extends Suspension Of Minimum Wage Enforcement In The Social Care Sector
29th September 2017
This will minimise disruption to the sector as we seek to ensure workers receive wages owed while we establish whether the industry needs further support.
The government today (28 September 2017) announced a further one-month suspension of minimum wage enforcement concerning sleep-in shifts in the social care sector to minimise disruption to the sector and seek to ensure workers receive the wages they are owed.
This follows July's decision to waive all historic penalties in the sector where employers incorrectly paid workers a flat-rate for sleep-in shifts instead of hourly rates. This was in response to concerns over the combined impact which financial penalties and arrears of wages could have on the stability and long-term viability of providers.
Today's announcement will allow the government to establish how providers' back pay bills will affect vulnerable people's care. The evidence base will also ensure any intervention is proportionate and necessary and could be required to satisfy EU State aid rules on government funding for private organisations.
During this temporary pause, the government will develop a new enforcement scheme for the sector to encourage and support social care providers to identify back pay owed to their staff. This will help to minimise the impact of future minimum wage enforcement in the sector while seeking to ensure workers receive the arrears they are owed.
Exceptional measures announced in July will remain in place until guidelines on this new approach are outlined next month.
It remains the government’s expectations that all employers pay their workers according to the law, including for sleep-in shifts, as set out in guidance entitled ‘Calculating the National Minimum Wage’.
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UNISON Scotland comment on UK government’s decision to extend the suspension of minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector:
UNISON is working hard, with employers across Scotland, to ensure that social care staff’s pay is compliant with the National Minimum Wage regulations. Penalties are needed to make sure unscrupulous employers abide by the law. The UK government extended amnesty is a green light for poor employers to carry on paying illegal wages without fear of ever being punished. In the absence of fines or the public shaming of any firm found guilty of poverty pay, the UK’s national minimum wage law is undermined.
Deborah Clarke, UNISON’s head of community in Scotland said: "We work hard to ensure employers comply with National Minimum Wage average pay for our members who work sleepovers. The vast majority of the charities that UNISON work with are now making the correct payments to staff and we would urge our members to contact their local UNISON branch if they believe their wages are incorrect.
“No government or employer is above the law. By suspending enforcement, ministers may well have been acting unlawfully, using powers they don’t have. Ministers must get tough with the minimum wage cheats, and give low-paid care staff a decent pay rise and put more money into the care sector."