Town hall chiefs deny minimum wage rules breached for care staff
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.”