Over recent weeks we have seen a new definition of heroes emerging with millions of UK residents honouring those who work for the NHS and within our Health and Social Care.
‘Clapping for Carers’ has become a Thursday night event, a time when the UK stops and shows its respect for all the work Health Care professionals do. Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus the government are also recognising the importance of not only hospital staff but carers in our community too.
A Pay Increase for Care Providers
An announcement was made by the Scottish Health Secretary Jean Freeman a few days ago which will see the introduction of a living wage being paid to those working in the care sector. It is hoped that this policy will be echoed by PM Matt Hancock in forthcoming weeks.
The national living wage will benefit care workers with an annual £1,000 pay increase, based on those being paid the minimum wage, but is this enough? With public opinion changing, care homeowners and the government may have to consider further support such as the real living wage (which takes into consideration the cost of living in London) travel expenses and travel time being paid.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus many carers have been unable to return home. This is due to the transmitting of the virus and the symptoms which can require around the clock care. The importance of which was highlighted by MP Boris Johnson himself commenting on the importance when recognising two nursing staff who cared for him in intensive care. This therefore leaves in doubt the question over Mencap sleep-in court case, which was brought by Tomlinson-Blake against Mencap.
The Court has been asked to consider whether sleep-ins should be classed as working time. Currently the legal position is:-
- Where an employer provides sleeping facilities, workers are required to stay at or near their workplace and they are expected to sleep for all or most of the sleep-in shift, staff are working only when awake for the purposes of working. There is no requirement for them to be paid for time spent asleep.
- If, in the above scenario, sleeping facilities are not provided, the worker must be paid minimum wage for the whole shift.
- Where a worker is not expected to sleep for all or most of their shift, even if there are occasions when they are permitted to sleep (e.g. when not busy) it is ‘likely’ minimum wage must be paid for the whole shift, including the time when the worker is asleep. Examples in practice could include where a support worker is regularly disturbed throughout the night during a sleep-in shift.
PPE and Testing for Carers
With 400,000 people currently living in care homes across the UK, 70% of which suffer with a form of dementia, concerns were also raised by Kate Lee the Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society. She wrote to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock requesting more support for care workers which addressed the shortage of PPE and the failure to test those living in or working at care homes.
As a result, Sky News has focused its reporting on the impact of the coronavirus on care homes, reporting how coronavirus outbreaks in care homes was almost unavoidable. Consequently, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now stepped in to coordinate the testing for up to 30,000 care providers by the end of the week.
Improved working Conditions for Carers
All of this has made for a perfect storm, with working conditions being affected. Care homeowners facing not only a PR backlash, but staff shortages and personal protection issues. Attwells Solicitors have always supported the care sector, Partner Lloyd Clarke has been a regular key speaker for the Essex Care Association (ECA) and has worked with countless care homeowners, resolving their legal issues.
During this challenging time and as we confront the new normal Attwells will be here for you. Our retainer packages offer you a legal support team. We can resolve disputes, employment issues, health and safety concerns and protect vulnerable staff members. Along with contract disagreements, whether there are with your supply chain or sub-contractors. We will provide you with regular legal advice and support, keeping you up to date with the latest legal requirements. including employment law and health and safety.
Please stay safe.
For more information regarding our health and social care legal service please click here or contact Lloyd Clarke direct on 01206 239761.