Care home briefing 137 – Travelling time between appointments and National Minimum Wage
The HMRC has recently prosecuted a care home provider for failing to pay staff for the time it takes them to travel between appointments. A number of organisations in the care sector do not pay staff for the time it takes for them to travel between appointments, therefore breaching the National Minimum Wage Regulations.
Under the National Minimum Wage Regulations working time includes the following:
- not working because of a machine breakdown but at work
- waiting time
- travelling in connection with work including travelling from one work assignment to another
- training or travelling to training during normal working hours
- working during the time when workers are allowed to sleep, if the employer provides a place to sleep
The following does not include time as working:
- travelling between home and work
- away from work on rest breaks, holidays, sick leave or maternity leave
- away from work because of industrial action
- at the workplace but not working during the time when workers are allowed to sleep if a place to sleep is provided
Therefore, if a care worker has four appointments in the morning and does not take any breaks, the worker must be paid the minimum wage for the time he or she spends at appointments, together with the time taken to travel to those appointments. A number of organisations in the care sector only pay for the time at the appointments rather than the time taken to travel to the appointments. This is in breach of the National Minimum Wage.
The HMRC is targeting the care sector and, in the last two years, has investigated 224 employers; to date 88 cases have been found to be non-compliant.
The HMRC has found that the main reasons for the breach include making deductions from wages for uniform costs, not paying for time spent training or travelling time between appointments, and charges for living accommodation.
The Queen’s Speech recently has identified that there should be a bigger deterrent and has announced bigger fines for breach of the National Minimum Wage. It has been suggested that the penalty to employers who breach the National Minimum Wage should be increased to £20,000 per employee rather than £20,000 in total.
To recap, the current National Minimum Wage that employers are required to pay:
- Young Workers (under 18) £3.72
- Young Development Worker (18-20) £5.03
- Adult rate (over 21) £6.31
These are due to be increased in October 2014 to the following:
- Young Workers (under 18) £3.79
- Young Development Worker (18-20) £5.13
- Adult rate (over 21) £6.50
The HMRC’s scrutiny in tackling National Minimum Wage abuse in the care sector makes it even more important for employers in this sector to ensure that they are complying with the National Minimum Wage regulations to avoid not only huge back pay to its workers, but also a significant penalty but also reputational issues should the organisation be named and shamed.
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This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.