With the introduction of new rules allowing for the “name and shame” of employers found to not pay their workers the National Minimum Wage (NMW), this topic is under the media spotlight at the moment, with a small part of the name and shame list being published recently.
Under the current rules however, a company can remain anonymous as long as it agrees to reimburse its staff without argument or delay.
Although the employer is not known, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have published details of what will not doubt be seen as landmark case on the subject of National Minimum Wage being paid during “travel time”. This case has resulted in a leading care provider being ordered to pay £600,000 for unpaid travel time and therefore highlights the significant financial consequences of care providers failing to meet NMW obligations.
In 2013 The Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Whittlestone v BJP Home Support ruled that employees are entitled to be paid the NMW for travel time between service user appointments. In this case, the employee worked under a rota system which required her to visit each service user in turn during the course of the day. Each visit was referred to as a “shift” in her contract of employment. This was ‘assignment’ work which meant that the employer had to pay the NMW for the time spent travelling between each assignment.
The EAT ruled that on the occasions when the employee had sufficient time to travel to and from her home between each assignment there was no obligation to pay the NMW.
This ruling has meant that HMRC are targeting care providers for inspection as it they aware that there are high levels of non-compliance for employers not paying their employees for these periods of travel time.
This case in the media spotlight gives a clear and stark warning to any company who also operate the policy of not paying for this type of travel time that prosecutions will happen, and bearing in mind experts estimate that there could be in the region of 220,000 carers being paid below NME because of travel time exemptions that employers in the Care Sector need to ensure that they do comply with the NMW regulations.
It should however be duly noted that “normal” home to work type of travel time does not have to count as working time and therefore the NMW does not apply.