A carer who took legal action against her ex-employer after she was not paid for the time she spent travelling to and from appointments has accepted a settlement from the company.
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.
The company employs 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 for four months 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, launched a legal action in the Employment Tribunal, challenging MiHomecare’s practice of not paying carers for the time they spent travelling to and from care appointments.
Lawyers argued that without payment for her travel time, Ms Barlow was being paid less than the minimum wage per hour and that it constituted an unlawful deduction of wages.
In February 2016 the company agreed to settle Caroline’s claim for the travel time she should have been paid for, agreeing to pay her £1250.
MiHomecare told the BBC that following a review in June last year they had ‘’revised all pay rates that required adjustment and amended care rosters to ensure that they complied with relevant legislation.’’
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, 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 the lawyer representing Ms Barlow in this case said: “We are very pleased to have settled this case. 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.
“We believe there are potentially thousands more care workers, working for MiHomecare, and other care providers, who are being paid less than the National Minimum Wage.”