Today’s announcement that the Government has temporarily suspended its enforcement activity and will waive historical financial penalties against employers concerning sleep in shift pay for care workers has been welcomed by care industry bodies.
VODG and Care England have been in active discussions with Government to create an appropriate framework for sleep in payments, in the light of tribunal interpretations and guidance, since 2014.
VODG chief executive, Dr Rhidian Hughes, said:
“VODG welcomes the National Living Wage and fully supports implementation. The social care sector has been fast approaching a crunch point in terms of HMRC enforcement action. The announcement by Government is very welcome, timely and a significant step forward. We will continue to work with central and local Government and employers to reach agreement on the future funding of essential services for disabled and older people who require on-call support during the night.”
Dr Hughes went on to say:
“But there is much more detail to work though. We need to agree a solution that works for the sector and avoids significant litigation. This includes removing the risk of back pay claims against employers.
Through the forthcoming negotiations VODG is committed to ensuring that the future arrangements work for all parts of the sector, and that includes individual employers, such as those who use personal budgets, so that they are not disadvantaged in any way.”
Commenting on the Government’s announcement, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, a representative body for providers of adult social care said:
“Whilst I am pleased that HMRC will not be pursuing care providers for Sleep-in payments this is only part of the problem. Providers may be required to pay years of back pay to staff who have worked Sleep-ins and it is therefore imperative that the Government works with the sector to fathom a long term solution.
There needs to be absolute clarity that public sector commissioners will have to fund the cost of sleep ins at the National Minimum Wage going forward”.
On 26 July the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced that it would (Read here)
– Waive historic financial penalties owed by employers who have underpaid their workers for overnight sleep-in shifts before 26 July 2017
– Temporarily suspend HMRC enforcement activity concerning payment of sleep-in shifts by social care providers until 2 October 2017.
Martin Green continued:
“This issue affects a range of independent providers including charities. Commissioners and providers need to sit down together to discuss the sufficiency of an individual’s care package, rather than this being set as part of an arbitrary standard price. In order to provide the best quality care it is essential that providers can budget and plan for the short, medium and long term and this has to be done alongside commissioners”.