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Low Pay Commission flags up shoddy pay practices in social care

Social care workers continue to face challenges in documenting underpayment of the National Minimum Wage, the Low Pay Commission (LPC) has revealed in a new report.

It says that the treatment of travel time in social care for wage purposes remains particularly concerning.

The report, Non-compliance and enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has left low-paid workers more vulnerable and businesses under greater pressure than ever before. This increases the risk of minimum wage underpayment and demands a proactive and strategic response from the Government.

Despite changes in the law forcing employers to provide clear payslips, including the number of hours worked, these provisions are not universally applied in social care.

The Low Pay Commission is currently consulting on the minimum wage rates which will apply from April 2022. This includes questions on the enforcement regime. The consultation is open until 18 June 2021.

It says more needs to be done to build workers’ confidence in the enforcement system and to support employers to comply with the rules.

With unemployment forecast to rise to 2.2 million by the end of 2021, low-paid workers will have fewer employment choices, which increases the likelihood of underpayment.

The LPC explains: “Workers who are more concerned about their jobs will be less willing to challenge their employers and less likely to report abuses. The Government needs to be on the front foot in counteracting this risk.”

It also notes that underpayment of the NMW is likely to be associated with other forms of abuse, from non-payment of holiday or sick pay to failure to observe health and safety rules

  • In a Care England roundtable, speakers said that providers are hampered in their ability to invest in services and their workforce due to unrealistic commissioning fees. Event attendees called for the adoption of the NHS Agenda for Change pay system in social care.

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