An employment tribunal will examine some of the worst breaches of pay rules union Unison has seen as council contractor Sevacare is sued by 17 care workers for failure to pay the minimum wage.

Breach of pay rules

The seventeen care workers were employed by contractor Sevacare in Haringey, north London, and payslips appear to show an hourly rate of £3.27 at a time when the national minimum wage was £7.20 an hour.

Sevacare maintains that it pays above the minimum wage and says the dispute is over hours that the contractor deemed off-duty. Unison, the care workers’ union, says it is some of the worst breaches of pay rules it has even seen. An employment tribunal will examine the case.

Council is facing lawsuit

The employment tribunal will also look into claims from other Sevacare care workers that their hourly pay fell below the minimum wage because they were not paid for travel time between visits.

Haringey Council is being sued at the employment tribunal for failing to ensure proper pay for the care workers. Despite the fact that the council ended its working relationship with Sevacare earlier this year, the BBC has seen payslips that suggest care workers are still being paid an hourly rate below the minimum wage. According to Unison there is a “scandal” of low pay throughout the care sector and the union is urging the government to take action.

Working conditions described as ‘a prison’

The care workers being paid £3.27 an hour were a number of women acting as “live-in” care workers in the home of an elderly woman with severe dementia.

According to Unison, the carers stayed in the home of the elderly woman for seven days at a time and they were on duty 24 hours a day. They slept on a bed in the same room as the elderly woman and would tend to her needs through the night.

One care worker likens the working conditions to a prison, saying they were not allowed to leave the house all week. Sevacare are denying that the women were working 24 hour days, claiming that the care workers’ hours were covered by a “daily average agreement” in which they were paid for 10 hours.

To read more, visit the BBC.

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