IN A LANDMARK judgement the European Court of Justice has ruled that care workers in the UK must be paid for their travel time.
The EU ruling states that care workers should now be paid for the time spent travelling from home to work and back again. It also ruled that care workers must be paid for the time they spend travelling between the homes of the people they care for. The ruling applies to all ‘mobile workers’ including British Gas, and AA workers.
Care worker and Unison rep Roger Hutt, speaking in a personal capacity, said: ‘If this is the case and this is something that the employees will have to adhere to, then obviously all and sundry will support this. However in my experience, with my dealings with the private sector they are a law unto themselves. Since we were privatised from the NHS, the private company has a completely different philosophy to the NHS.
‘Practices and standards which we adhered to in the NHS are now ignored. These private companies believe that they can circumnavigate legislation. And we will continue to challenge them at every stage in the struggle. We were out on strike for 90 days against our private employer Care UK.’
However companies have consistently refused to pay care workers for their travel time. This meant that care workers were in fact not being paid for much of the working day and as a result were being paid, in many cases under the minimum wage.
Unison, which represents public sector workers, welcomed the ruling by the European Court of Justice. Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said: ‘This case rightly demonstrates that mobile workers should be paid for all their working time.
‘This judgment is bound to have a significant impact in the UK, particularly on home care workers.
‘Tens of thousands of home care workers are not even getting the minimum wage because their employers fail to pay them for the time they spend travelling between the homes of all the people they care for. Now thanks to this case, they should also be paid when they are travelling to their first visit, and again back home from their last.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This sensible ruling will prevent unscrupulous employers opening up a loophole to force some staff to work upwards of 60 hours a week.’
Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB Europe Officer, said, ‘GMB has many members who work for British Gas, the AA and home care workers who start and finish their work at home. They will now feel reassured that the court has so clearly recognised that travelling from home to your first client, patient or customer and home from the last one at the end of your shift is rightly counted as working time. This time should now be paid for.’