National Minimum Wage: Payments for Travel Time
Following the debate regarding the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and “on-call” workers in the social care sector (as discussed here), workers’ entitlement to the NMW for travel time is now hitting the headlines.
A recent investigation has uncovered allegations that a company which provides home care services across the Midlands has failed to correctly pay its staff for travel time between home visit appointments.
In this case, whistleblowers alleged that the Company doesn’t pay its staff for the time spent travelling between vulnerable individual’s homes, and over the course of the shift this causes the workers’ remuneration to fall below the NMW.
Current NMW Rates
The NMW rates have recently changed and the current hourly rates are now as follows:
- 25s and over = £8.21
- 21 – 24 = £7.70
- 18 – 20 = £6.15
- Under 18s = £4.35
- Apprentice = £3.90
Employers are under no specific obligation to make separate payments for an employee’s travel time to and from their place of work.
However, this doesn’t mean that care workers aren’t entitled to be paid for travel time between appointments. Accordingly, employers must ensure that their workers are paid at least the appropriate NMW rate (depending on age) for all hours which they work, including travel time.
Note – When calculating whether the NMW rate has been paid, travel to and from home to a place of work shouldn’t be included.
For example, if a care worker (aged 26) has spent nine hours attending to patients and is paid £73.89 for the shift, the employer will have fulfilled its duty to pay not less than the NMW.
However, if the same worker has spent a further three hours travelling to and from patient appointments, the worker’s hourly pay will have decreased to just £6.16. Accordingly, the worker in this scenario would have received less than they are entitled to under the NMW regulations.
Failure to pay the NMW can carry serious penalties for employers and HMRC can pursue employers in the Civil Courts for failing to pay the NMW which can, in the most serious of cases, result in a fine of up to £20,000.
Similarly, employers can be pursued in the Employment Tribunal and/or Civil Court if a worker feels that they haven’t received the NMW.
For more information on the above, or for a no obligation discussion about any employment law issues you are facing, please contact a member of our team today.