Unions slam minimum wage amnesty as workers miss out for another month

social care elderly old womanUnions have slammed the government after it announced a further one-month suspension of minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector.

In July the government said it would waive all historic penalties where employers incorrectly paid workers a flat rate for sleep-in shifts instead of hourly rates.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Penalties are needed to make sure unscrupulous bosses abide by the law. But this extended amnesty is a green light for dodgy employers to carry on paying illegal wages without fear of ever being punished.

“In the absence of fines or the public shaming of any firm found guilty of poverty pay, the UK’s minimum wage law is being seriously undermined.

“While there may be some sympathy for charities who owe their sleep-in staff money for not paying the minimum wage when they should have been, many care providers are private equity-backed companies that can well afford to pay up.

“No government or employer should be above the law. By suspending enforcement, we have grave concerns ministers may well have been acting unlawfully and using powers they don’t have.

“It’s time ministers got tough with the minimum wage cheats, give low-paid care staff a decent pay rise and put more money into the care sector.”

GMB national officer for care Sharon Wilde said: “This disgraceful announcement shows that the government is washing its hands of a care sector in crisis. Care workers perform extremely difficult jobs for very low pay, and ministers are treating with contempt by not enforcing the National Minimum Wage.

“The average care worker earns just £7.75 an hour – just 25p above the minium wage, and non-compliance with the law is still endemic in the sector. High turnover rates are already putting staff and patients at risk. The real problem is that there just isn’t enough money in the system. It’s time for ministers to treat care workers with some humanity and put in the additional funding that we so desperately need.”

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