A lot of people with a Direct Payment or Personal Budget employ their PAs directly, and I know a lot of people who this works really well for. But I always worry that I’d struggle to find someone to fill in when people are unwell or on holiday, and my health and energy can be unreliable so I worry that I’d not be able to keep up with arranging everything. Maybe one day I’ll give it a go, but for the moment I pay a care agency. The shift handovers are arranged around my work schedule, and most of the Care Assistants that assist me have worked with me for a few years, so we’ve built up really good teamwork.
I was asked a while back about pay rates for live-in care staff. I said I wasn’t sure, but would find out. Whilst researching, I discovered that my own Care Assistants were being paid less than the legal minimum wage at night.
Everybody deserves and has a right to the minimum wage, and if Care Assistants are treated unfairly then there will be problems with recruitment and staff retention. Disabled people rely on PAs and CAs daily, and they in turn rely on us for good working conditions and a reliable income to pay the bills and feed the kids. How could I call myself a campaigner and know that the person sitting next to me was being financially abused by their employer, who in an indirect way was me?
I decided to do something about it. It wasn’t good enough, so I rolled up my sleeves and got typing.
I am writing to you as a client of the [town] branch with a 24 hour package of care delivered solely by [company].
In my day job as a disability rights campaigner, I spend a lot of my time looking into the rights of others. Whilst browsing for work, I spotted the enclosed. [This: https://www.liveincarejobs.co.uk/resources/night-work-waking-nights-sleep-ins ]
It states that “Recent case law has established that “sleep-ins” are covered by the National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations. So even if a worker is allowed to sleep at work, if they are required to stay at their workplace, then all their hours are covered by NMW regulations. This means if any worker is paid – on average – less than the National Minimum Wage over their pay reference period, they will be entitled to a pay rise. They may also be entitled to back pay but because working patterns vary enormously between individuals; this will need to be done on a case-by-case basis.”
Care Assistants which work a sleep-in at mine (10pm to 7am) are currently paid £45. Over the 9 hour shift, this works out as £5 per hour, considerably lower than minimum wage of £7.50. Given that some of my Care Assistants have worked multiple sleep-ins per week for several months/years, I believe some of them are owed four figure sums.
I have not discussed this matter with any of my Care Assistants; this letter was sent via a friend. I trust that this matter will be resolved in due course and look forward to hearing what will happen next by email – [redacted]
Yours sincerely[my name]”
It was 2 months before I got a reply. I thought about writing another letter but wasn’t sure what I could say that would make more of a difference than what I’d already written. Turns out I didn’t need to say anything else.
Last week I got a phone call from the person who writes the care plans. I couldn’t believe it! The manager had passed it on to their manager, who had gone away and spoken with other managers, and together they made a decision. Every Care Assistant working for that company across the country will now get minimum wage for sleep-in nights!
Sadly there was no mention of back pay. Maybe I’ll write another letter…