Town hall chiefs deny min­i­mum wage rules breached for care staff

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -

COUN­CIL chiefs have de­nied claims made in a re­port that care staff may have been paid be­low the min­i­mum wage.

The al­le­ga­tions emerged from a Cheshire East Coun­cil re­port which was leaked to the Ex­press.

Writ­ten last Oc­to­ber, a se­nior HR of­fi­cer warned that the author­ity’s com­mit­ment to pay­ing staff the min­i­mum wage was at odds with other pay ar­range­ments for carers which the re­port said ‘could be il­le­gal’.

The coun­cil de­nies breach­ing min­i­mum wage reg­u­la­tions.

The re­port cen­tres on carers who stay overnight look­ing af­ter vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple but who are al­lowed to sleep.

These are called ‘sleep-in’ shifts and are paid a flat rate.

Ac­cord­ing to min­i­mum wage leg­is­la­tion, em­ploy­ers must take into ac­count shifts where staff are al­lowed to sleep.

The leaked re­port claims the coun­cil “looked at” the is­sue “a cou­ple of years ago”, but “the de­ci­sion then was ‘to do noth­ing’.”

The is­sue emerged again in Oc­to­ber be­cause of the ex­pected in­crease in the min­i­mum wage, which the au­thor said ‘risks some staff fall­ing be­low the [na­tional min­i­mum wage]’.

She also warned re­cent court judge­ments sug­gested the prac­tice of a flat rate sleep-in pay­ment ‘may now be il­le­gal’.

The re­port said rec­ti­fy­ing the prob­lem could cost the coun­cil up to £450k more per year in staff costs.

A coun­cil spokesper­son said: “An in­ter­nal re­port that raised con­cerns about sleep-in shifts and min­i­mum wage was con­sid­ered by the Head of Hu­man Re­sources in Novem­ber 2016 and a re­view of the is­sues raised was com­mis­sioned through an in­de­pen­dent pay con­sul­tant. This de­tailed re­view is still on­go­ing; how­ever, pre­lim­i­nary find­ings in­di­cate that Cheshire East Coun­cil is not in breach of min­i­mum wage leg­is­la­tion.

“Cheshire East Coun­cil takes both the wel­fare of staff and its le­gal obli­ga­tions very se­ri­ously, how­ever, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment fur­ther un­til the re­view is com­plete.

“In ad­di­tion it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for us to make com­ment in re­la­tion to is­sues per­tain­ing to in­di­vid­ual staffing mat­ters.”

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