Government acts to reduce impact of new wage rules on sleep-ins
The Government has announced that it has temporarily suspended enforcement activity and is waiving historic financial penalties against employers concerning sleep-in shift pay in the social care sector.
Last week specialist care provider organisations said the sector was approaching a crunch over sleep-ins and called on government to clarify its position. Today, the Government has said it will waive historic financial penalties owed by employers who have underpaid their workers for overnight sleep-in shifts before 26 July 2017; and temporarily suspend HMRC enforcement activity concerning payment of sleep-in shifts by social care providers until 2nd October 2017.
Government reaffirmed its expectation that all employers pay their workers according to the law, including for sleep-in shifts, as set out in guidance entitled “Calculating the National Minimum Wage”.
The Government says it will continue to look at the issue alongside industry representatives to see whether any further support is needed and ensure that action taken to protect workers is fair and proportionate, while seeing how it might be possible to minimise any impact on social care provision.
The measures announced today have been criticised by the GMB union, describing the Government’s action as “not only ridiculous,but reckless”.
“This kind of deregulation will cause suffering for both service users and staff,” said Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary for public services.
“GMB and others have long campaigned for fair funding and highlighted how this Government had longed papered over the cracks. “This announcement shows the sector is not in a crisis – it has already broken down and desperately needs additional funding. However the underpayment of the minimum wage in the care sector is not the answer – it is a national scandal and employers may feel emboldened to break the law again in the future.
“GMB urges the Government to rethink their ill-judged decision, because it’s service users and staff who will carry burden and feel the impact of the loosening of regulations in the care sector.”