Journal Article

Care and Control: Are the National Minimum Wage Entitlements of Homecare Workers at Risk under the Care Act 2014?

LJB Hayes

in Industrial Law Journal

Volume 44, issue 4, pages 492-521
Published in print December 2015 | ISSN: 0305-9332
Published online October 2015 | e-ISSN: 1464-3669 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dwv028
Care and Control: Are the National Minimum Wage Entitlements of Homecare Workers at Risk under the Care Act 2014?

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Homecare is a major source of women’s low-wage employment in the UK. Practices of unpaid working time are widespread and many workers are not paid in accordance with their existing national minimum wage entitlements. On 1 April 2015, a new duty of well-being in social care came into force and local authorities are required to promote the control of care by service-users. As a consequence, homecare workers will increasingly be engaged in complex multi-lateral work relations and subject to multi-party control. This article examines how the national minimum wage entitlements of homecare workers have been legally interpreted and questions if their entitlements might be adversely affected under provisions of the Care Act 2014. There is a legacy of judicial decision-making in which care-giving is not recognised as ‘work’ for the purposes of the national minimum wage. Yet recent decisions have produced a more satisfactory entitlement framework by establishing that employer control over working time determines ‘work’. However, it seems this framework is put at risk by the statutory promotion of service-user control. As work relations are re-cast, contractual relationships in which care-giving falls outside the protection of national minimum wage law will appear increasingly attractive because they may both enhance service-user control and facilitate very low cost labour. Without innovation in legal treatments of multi-party control and sustained attention to the worth of care-giving as employment, the rights of homecare workers are at risk under the Care Act 2014.

Journal Article.  12458 words. 

Subjects: Employment and Labour Law ; Industrial and Employment Relations

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