Labour Councillors have slammed Westminster Council’s continuing failure to ensure it pays the minimum wage to all its home care workers for the time they spend working on behalf of the Council.
Despite the contracting companies charging the Council between £11.32- £13.50 for each hour worked by a home care worker, some of them don’t pay their employees for the time they have to spend traveling between different home visits where they tend to Westminster’s elderly and vulnerable.
Despite repeated calls for reform from Labour Councillors and Karen Buck MP, the Council has admitted that at two of Westminster’s five current contractors, home care workers can be paid at less than the National Minimum Wage for the time spent working for the Council due to the amount of time they spend travelling between visits across the city. Council officers have told Councillors;
“We have contacted 5 providers in Westminster to ask them to confirm whether their workers receive at least the minimum wage including travel time. Three have confirmed that they do, the other two have indicated that while, this is the intention and the majority do, occasional exceptional circumstances mean people have to travel further. All are aware of the need for locality working and work to this premise.”
What is even more shocking is that despite proposed ‘patching’ improvements to reduce travel time the Council has refused to guarantee that this shameful practice will come to an end when new contract arrangements are decided next year. All the Council will say is, “When we procure the new service we will divide areas into patches to reduce travel times.”
Councillor Adam Hug, Westminster Labour Group Adult Care spokesperson, said;
“Getting the best standard of home care for Westminster’s elderly and vulnerable residents should be one of the Council’s top priorities. Well supported and motivated home care workers are essential to achieving high quality care. Yet Westminster continues to exploit these vitally important staff who have to travel around the city between the different home visits the Council sends them to. “
“Westminster should follow the lead of Councils such as Islington who have guaranteed that all home care workers will receive the London Living Wage – £2.50 more per hour than the NMW that Westminster is failing to provide in some cases. The very least the Council must do is to ensure that it complies with the spirit of National Minimum Wage and stops exploiting home care workers.”