Trade union Unison has urged care workers and others to enter litigation over payments for time spent travelling between work appointments, following an Employment Tribunal ruling.
It also called on the government to require employers to pay care staff for travelling time.
In E Harris and 8 others’ case against Kaamil Education, Premier Carewaiting and Diligent Care Services claimants were awarded sums between £850.25 and £15,335.14 and the tribunal made its calculations available “as a useful guide to similar claims arising in the care sector”.
Unison said those denied full wages could now bring cases against their care employers to reclaim what they are owed.
The contractors involved in this case worked for companies contracted by the London Borough of Haringey and the dispute centred on time spent travelling between appointment with clients, for which workers were not paid.
Unison said this practice meant they could earn well under half the legal minimum hourly rate and that the tribunal found travelling and waiting time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It’s time the skills and experience of care staff were respected instead of them being underpaid and undervalued.
“The pandemic has proven just how vital they are in looking after the most vulnerable in society and keeping the care system running.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are very clear that social care workers must be paid at least the national minimum wage, with those over 25 earning at least the national living wage, and they should be paid for the time spent caring for clients, travelling to appointments and waiting for them to start.
“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future."