March 17, 2016

Are your Mobile Workers getting the Minimum Wage?

Employers could face huge bills for failing to pay the minimum wage for time spent travelling, following a recent case.

According to a BBC article today, MiHomecare, a division of the Mitie Group, has just settled a claim brought by Home Care Worker, Caroline Barlow.

Ms Barlow sued her employer for failing to pay her for time spent travelling between the homes of elderly clients. Whilst she was paid for out of pocket expenses for those journeys, she was not paid a wage.

Working time is defined as ‘any period during which a person is working, at his employer’s disposal and carrying out his activity or duties’. Therefore, it is easy to see how the ECJ came to its conclusion in respect of mobile workers.

For those who are paid at or near the level of the National Minimum Wage, it is easy to see how an employer’s failure to pay a worker for travelling between jobs might tip wage payments below the legal minimum.

Worryingly for this employer, Leigh Day, the law firm which brought Ms Barlow’s claim, is now considering a group action against MiHomecare

It is estimated that this would involve 100s of former and current employees who are in the same situation as Ms Barlow. This could cost the employer many thousands of pounds in unpaid wages.

In our October 2015 Employment Law Guide, we also reported on the ECJ case which said that working time for mobile workers must include time spent travelling between home and the first and last job of the day.

Using the same principle, a Home Care Worker was, at that time, in the process of making a claim for underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.

Penalties for breaches of the minimum wage

Separately, HM Revenue and Customs has indicated that it is in the process of investigating more than 100 care providers for possible breaches of the National Minimum Wage, by actively targeting some of the largest social care providers.

As we reported in our August 2015 Employment Law Guide, the maximum penalty for breach of the National Minimum Wage increased from £20,000 in total to £20,000 per worker, so this represents a serious issue for employers.

If you are worried about the issues raised in this article – we can help.  We are offering employers or employees in the Care Sector FREE* access to our experienced team of HR & Employment Law subject matter experts during 2016.

Call Moorepay today on 0845 619 6528,  quoting FA001 to find out how the Minimum Wage & National Living Wage increase effect you and your business. You can also download our employment law guide.

*This FREE advice line service is limited to ‘telephone advice only, Monday to Friday 9-5 – and up to 3 calls on one single case matter’. It will run for a 9 month period until 31st December 2016.

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About the author

Tom Muirhead

Tom has represented clients across the UK, both at Employment Tribunal and in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. With a strong background in HR at senior level, Tom is adept at explaining the legal framework to clients in a practical way.