A recent debate in the House of Commons on zero-hour contracts focused on the widespread mistreatment of homecare workers.
Conservative MP for South Norfolk Richard Bacon introduced the debate and said: “I believe that in the domiciliary care sector, there is still what amounts to systematic exploitation. I hope that the Government will look at the matter carefully.”
He went on to say “careworkers are often forced to rush from care appointment to care appointment without being given adequate time at each appointment, or time to travel between appointments, for which they are not paid.”
In his contribution he directly quoted the experiences of some homecare workers.
“After I spoke with Unison, it sent me the testimonies of several careworkers, some of them anonymised because the workers are simply too frightened to be open. One such home careworker wrote:
“I am on zero contract hours…If I kick off, I have the fear that they can turn around and take me off my calls…I work six days a week, which accounts to me putting in forty five hours plus…But I am lucky if I get paid for 28 of those hours”.
Mr. Bacon then called on the Business Minister Nick Boles to undertake to work closely with the new Minister for Community and Social Care to ensure that firms providing care services are taking the required steps to stamp out bad practice and look after their employees.
He also asked the Minister “to work with HM Revenue and Customs, encouraging it to pursue cases where there are clear breaches of employment law—for example, the payment of the national minimum wage to care workers who are not paid for travelling between appointments—so that unscrupulous employers have a justified fear of ending up in the courts?”
UNISON will continue to work to ensure that more MPs raise the plight of care workers and the people who rely on care services.