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Have you got to grips with travel time and pay?

This month has seen a number of reports in the media on the subject of travel time and pay.  This has been a live issue for some time, but it is clear that many employers still haven’t got to grips with the issues involved.

The BBC reported on the case of a care worker who successfully pursued a back pay claim in the Tribunal against her employer MiHomecare for £1,250.  The employee travelled 38 miles between her clients each day, however she was only paid mileage for the travel time. 

A cursory glance of this case may not initially raise concerns with employers given the relatively low sum involved.  It is only when you consider the claim related to six months’ work and the fact that MiHomecare employ 4,500 staff that the numbers start to look more worrying. This will inevitably prompt many business owners in a similar situation to take notice. Indeed the solicitor instructed in this case has already indicated that they are looking at bringing a group action on behalf of the care worker’s colleagues.

The basic principle behind the decision is that travel time between sites is viewed as working time and all working time must be paid at the correct hourly rate i.e. at least national minimum wage.

Unison has just released a report which highlights the issue and this too has been picked up in the press.  They have concluded that three quarters of local authorities do not require homecare provider firms to pay travel time.  Therefore many of the companies contracted by local authorities to provide care workers are underpaying their employees. ‘It’s a scandal that more than 200,000 care workers are receiving illegal wages of less than £6.70,’ said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

If it wasn’t bad enough for employers that both the trade unions and employment lawyers are honing in on this issue, HM Revenue and Customs (who are responsible for enforcing the minimum wage) are getting in on the act too.  They are investigating more than 100 care providers… ''as part of this we are taking targeted action against some of the biggest social care providers.''

The legal point is applicable to all employers and is not just confined to the care sector. All employers with mobile workers need to be aware of the law and the implications to their business.  Employers must meet the requirements of the national minimum wage, and from April the national living wage, ensuring that all employees are paid at the correct rate of pay for each hour deemed working time.

If travel time is to be counted as working time then employers need to check if the total amount of hours worked is exceeding 48 on a regular basis.  At a minimum employers should ensure that the appropriate opt out of the Working Time Directive’s 48-hour working week have been signed.  Consideration should also be given to the wider heath & safety implications and whether current working practices need to change.

It is worth emphasising that it is not necessarily the case that employees must be paid for travelling time.  The contract can allow for unpaid overtime, which is often the case for salaried employees.  The key point is that the hourly rate for working time exceeds the required amount.

Employers who do not pay for travel time do so at their peril.  It is essentially that business owners conduct an audit of current practices in the workplace and take advice to avoid the risk of breaking the law and facing costly claims against them.

Posted by: Grahame Davies
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Everything you wanted to know about pay but were afraid to ask

We've partnered with Allens Accountants to bring you the answers to all your payroll queries in one place. This FREE seminar will cover:

  • Holiday Pay
    • Are you aware of the recent EU rulings requiring employers to include overtime and commission as part of holiday pay?
  • National Living Wage
    • Are you ready for the changes and do you understand the implications?
  • Absence Management and SSP
    • Do you know when you can avoid paying SSP and how to minimise absence and costs associated with it?
  • Working Time Directive
    • Have you heard about the latest case law on paying your employees for travel time and sleepovers?
  • Auto enrolment compliance
    • Case studies plus Q&A

When: Thursday, 21 April 2016 from 09:30 to 10:30
Where: Allens Chartered Accountants, 123 Wellington Road South, Stockport, SK1 3TH

To attend this free event please contact us on 0161 603 2156, email info@opsium.co.uk  or click here to register.

Posted by: Grahame Davies
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Unpaid Lay Off Clauses

Unpaid lay off clauses are a common feature of employment contracts for businesses where a downturn in work is expected such as tourism, leisure, hospitality, farming, construction and retailing.

In a recent case the Employment Appeal Tribunal was asked to determine whether the period of unpaid lay off was subject to a test of reasonableness.

In his judgement Mr. Justice Langstaff confirmed that where there is a contractual provision for lay off there is no need for the period to be reasonable.

Legislation provides a mechanism by which employees have the right to seek a statutory redundancy payment when they have been laid off for a specified period of time. These provisions ensure that there is a natural balance of the employer/employee rights.

If you need advice in how to go about drafting lay off provisions or have any other queries please contact us for further guidance.

Posted by: Rachel Harkin
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Northern Restaurant and Bar, Stand A2

We'll be on Stand A2 at Northern Restaurant & Bar, 15 - 16 March and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your HR requirements. If you'd like to arrange a meeting with one of our advisors please email info@opsium.co.uk or call 0161 603 2156 and if you haven’t already registered to attend, you can do so here.

Posted by: Opsium marketing
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Employment Law Update March 17th 2016

Don't miss this free opportunity to find out what's changing in Employment Law and equip yourself with essential information you need to know in order to protect your business.

Come along to our seminar and  we'll provide you with an update on the National Living Wage, employing foreign workers, zero hours contracts, staff tips, disability discrimination and key changes that are expected during 2016. All of this plus free parking and breakfast.

When: 17th March 2016, 8:30am - 10:30am
Where: No.1 Lakeside, Cheadle Royal Business Park, Cheadle, SK8 3GW

To attend this free event please contact us on 0161 603 2156, email info@opsium.co.uk or click here to register.

Free Consultation
If you can't make it to the seminar you can still benefit from our expertise. During March we are offering a free consultation, just in time for the legislative changes that are arriving in April.

If you would like to book a complimentary consultation please call 0161 603 2156.


Posted by: Opsium marketing
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