Seventeen care workers are taking legal action over the failure to be paid the national minimum wage.
It is considered to be the largest ever legal claim against the care sector.
The care workers were employed on zero hour contracts to look after elderly and disabled people in the borough of Haringey, North London for a period of six years up to 2016. Some of the workers made visits to people in their homes and others provide live-in care.
Care workers who provided live-in care claim they were earning as little as £3.27 an hour, which is much lower than the £6.70 national minimum rate at the time. They also claim that they were working 24 hours a day and felt that they could not reject any work as they would be penalised.
Other care workers allege their pay rates fell below the minimum wage because they were not paid for travelling between people’s homes. They claim that a typical day may involve 14 hours of work, but they only received pay for half of those hours, leaving them earning only £3.85 an hour.
The workers are backed by the trade union, Unison, who claim that these care workers should be paid for the time they are travelling to people’s homes and for the time they spend on call.
Sevacare, a care provider at the centre of the case disputes the accusations. It states that there was a daily average agreement in place for the live-in care workers. They were paid £550 for a seven day week, which equates to £7.85 an hour and exceeds the national minimum wage of the time. They also argue that the care workers did not work 24 hours a day.
Haringey Council, which commissioned the care services, parted terms with Sevacare earlier this year. However, there are claims that care workers are not receiving the minimum wage at present. Payslips show that the wage paid is lower than the current rate of £7.20. The Council is facing legal action for their failure to ensure the workers were paid properly.