Mrs Barlow worked for the company between October 2014 and February 2015 as a care worker. In her role, she travelled to the homes of sick, elderly and disabled clients, assisting them with washing, dressing, eating and taking medication. She was based in Devon, and often had to travel for more than half an hour between her eight daily appointments on narrow country lanes. However, she was not paid by MiHomecare for her travel time. Although her contractual pay was more than £7 per hour, her hourly rate averaged to below the then National Minimum Wage of £6.50 when travel time was taken into account.
Mrs Barlow brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal last year, arguing that she should be paid for her travelling time between appointments. She has now settled her claim for £1,250.
MiHomecare is now facing a group action from its employees for back pay for travel time.
It is quite clear from the National Minimum Wage legislation that time spent by a worker travelling between assignments is classed as working time and should be paid at the appropriate National Minimum Wage rate. Because the case was settled, we do not know the full details of the arguments raised by MiHomecare in its defence. In any case, it is likely that the publicity arising from this case will draw care workers’ attention to the issue and at the very least result in queries from care workers about pay for their travel time.
HMRC is stepping up its enforcement action in relation to the National Minimum Wage and is, in particular, targeting care providers. If you are worried that you may not be paying your employees the correct National Minimum Wage, contact Louise Connacher of our Employment Department. Enforcement action from HMRC can include “naming and shaming” as well as criminal penalties – if you receive a call from HMRC about a National Minimum Wage audit, our Regulatory Department can help – contact Jeremy Scott on 07971 520407.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.