Social care charities repeat call for government action on sleep-in carers

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group says there is still no guidance or commitment to action on the issue

Sleep-in care (Photograph: Shutterstock)
Sleep-in care (Photograph: Shutterstock)

Social care charities have reiterated calls for government action to avert a sleep-in care back pay crisis.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group said that, one year on from the launch of the Social Care Compliance Scheme, a government-established mechanism for charities to calculate and give back pay to sleep-in care workers, there was still no government guidance or commitment to action on the issue.

Social care charities faced paying significant sums to sleep-in care workers after an employment tribunal ruling in 2015 found that a former Mencap care worker, Claire Tomlinson-Blake, was entitled to receive the national minimum wage for each hour of sleep-in shifts completed, plus six years of back payments.

Charities had previously typically paid sleep-ins a flat rate of between £35 and £45, plus an hourly rate for any time spent providing care rather than being asleep.

The government set up the SCCS for social care providers to calculate and repay back pay owed to their care workers, which could have cost the sector an estimated £400m.

But in a case brought by Mencap in July, the Court of Appeal ruled that social care providers, including many charities, did not have to pay significant sums in back pay to sleep-in care workers.

Despite this, the government has yet to provide guidance on how sleep-in carers should be paid, and there is still no government commitment to take action on the issue, VODG said.

The VODG said in August that, despite the lack of guidance, HM Revenue & Customs had written to social care providers to tell them they should continue making self-reviews under the SCCS of the back pay they owe.

HMRC’s communication said that all self-reviews should be submitted either by the end of 2018 or 12 months after the application to the SCCS, whichever was sooner.

The VODG said today that one unnamed council had now proposed reducing pay for sleep-in care work to just £4 an hour, taking into account tax and National Insurance.

The union Unison has also applied to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s sleep-in care verdict.

Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the VODG, said: "The Budget missed the opportunity to invest in and shore up the fragile social care sector.

"Social care providers are struggling to recruit and retain their staff and any decisions that erode workers’ pay are not only unfair to hard working staff, but also potentially dangerous in putting essential overnight services at risk."

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