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Care workers losing out on national minimum wage

A care worker from Bolton has been awarded more than £3,000 after challenging her employers over withheld travel time payments.

Judith Montgomery generally worked 15 hours a day on a split shift basis but her employers, Bolton based Servacare would not pay for the time she spent travelling between her clients, leaving her underpaid by £60 a week.

Speaking to the Bolton News, Mrs Montgomery said: “My service users became like a family to me and I didn’t want to let them down. I worked on a zero-hours contract and would be paid only for the time spent in my client’s homes, never for the time spent travelling between them, so I could be paid for 30 hours a week but actually worked many more.

She added: “I started work at 7am doing breakfasts, and would get home after the bed run at 10.30pm, yet I would only get paid for six or seven hours. I’d be on the go all day, I was shattered and it took a toll on my health.”

Unions have said that there is a widespread failure to honour the minimum wage for many homecare workers who can spend as much as 20% of their working day travelling between home visits.

Sarah Naylor, specialist employment solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “Sadly, this is not an isolated case. Carers are providing a vital service by helping the elderly and disabled to maintain their independence.  Travel is a necessary part of their job, and often clients are several miles apart.

The law is clear on this point; employers must pay for the time spent travelling between clients and refusal to pay can in fact be seen as an unlawful deduction of wages.” 

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