Ruling says travel and waiting time between cases should be treated as working time.
The case was brought by UNISON, and its leader, Dave Prentis, described the ruling as ‘a major victory’.
A group of homecare workers have been awarded an average of £10,000 each in back pay after a tribunal ruled that they had been unlawfully paid less than half the minimum wage for looking after elderly and disabled people in their own homes.
The group – the majority of whom were black or minority ethnic women and on zero-hours contracts – were not paid for the time they spent travelling between multiple clients’ homes in north London, despite working for up to 14 hours a day.
As a result, the 10 workers were paid for just half of what was the £7.20-an-hour national minimum wage at the time the case was brought by the UNISON trade union in 2016. The ruling said travelling and waiting time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time.
UNISON said the employment tribunal judgment sent a clear message to employers that it was unacceptable to pay staff what it called “illegal poverty wages”.
One of the 10, who wished to remain anonymous, said she drove between up to 15 clients homes in a day that would often start at 7am and end at 9pm.
She said: “It’s been a long fight but it’s great the case has come good in the end. My hope is the decision will help other homecare workers receive the same justice.”
A second said: “Care workers aren’t valued. We’ve been treated like we were nobody. That’s why this result is so important, not just for us but others like us. It’s been daunting bringing this case. But I believe in justice and we supported one another to the end.”
Colin Angel, policy director for the United Kingdom Homecare Association, which represents homecare providers, said: “Although the judgment in this case is not binding on other cases before the tribunals, it could change the interpretation of the law. The judgment is therefore potentially significant for homecare providers, councils, the NHS and for people who purchase their own care privately, or use a direct payment.”