Social care
Low pay

Does it pay to care? Under-payment of the National Minimum Wage in the social care sector

Some care workers are being paid as little as £5 an hour – well below the legal minimum wage. Does it Pay to Care? shows that while headline pay rates for care workers who visit clients at home are set at or above the national minimum wage of £6.19 an hour, in practice those workers often lose at least £1 an hour because they are not paid separately for the time spent travelling between appointments and because providing decent care often takes longer than the time allocated by the employer for each visit. This would mean that over the course of a year, a care worker who spent an average of 35 hours a week at work for 48 weeks would lose out on more than £1600.

There are an estimated 2 million care workers in the UK, 830,000 of whom are “domiciliary” care workers, carrying out home visits. It is estimated that up to 220,000 of all care workers may be paid less than the minimum wage. Last year HMRC, which is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage, served notices on 879 employers (in all sectors) advising them of underpayments to staff.