Carer takes her ex-employer to an employment tribunal for allegedly paying below minimum wage

A carer is taking legal action against her ex-employer after she was not paid for the time she spent travelling to and from appointments.

Caroline Barlow, 56, worked as a Home Care Worker for MiHomecare a nationwide homecare services provider with 35 branches which cares for people who need help and support due to old age, illness, disability or infirmity. They employ thousands of Home Care Workers, many of whom, lawyers believe, may also have a claim.

Ms Barlow, a mother of two, worked for the company from October 2014 to February 2015 attending an average of 8 appointments per day at various locations in the South-West of England.

She would travel to these appointments in her own car, often spending several hours a day driving to get to see people in their own homes.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing Ms Barlow, has launched a legal action in the Employment Tribunal, which challenges MiHomecare’s practice of not paying carers for the time they spend travelling to and from care appointments.

It is estimated that 883,000 people receive domiciliary care in the UK with over 500,000 people employed in the sector. According to lawyers at Leigh Day, the number of claims could run into thousands costing care providers millions of pounds in unpaid wages for staff.

According to the investigative organisation Corporate Watch a leaked internal MiHomecare document calculated it could owe workers from just one of its branches as much as £80,000 for not paying travel time.

Jasmine Patel from the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Without payment for her travel time, Ms Barlow was being paid less than the minimum wage per hour and we believe that this is an unlawful deduction of wages.

“Ms Barlow’s travel to and from appointments was a necessary part of her job and as such, she should have been paid for it. Leigh Day understands that there are potentially thousands more Home Care Workers working for MiHomecare, and other care providers, who are also being paid less than the National Minimum Wage”

Ms Barlow said:

“My job involved going to see people in their own homes and performing a range of tasks to ensure that these very vulnerable people had someone to care for them on a regular basis. By the nature of the job I had to travel to people’s homes to carry out my work, it is only after doing the role that you realise just how much of your day is essential travelling.”