Social care charities will be forced to cut staff wages after a county council decided to only fund sleep-in shifts at a flat rate.
The council wrote to social care providers last month saying it planned to cut their funding after a Court of Appeal hearing in March involving Mencap ruled that sleep-in shift workers were not entitled to the full minimum wage.
Previous hearings for the Mencap case in 2016 and 2017 ruled that sleep-in shift workers should be entitled to the full minimum wage instead of the lower flat rate fee that most received for a night shift.
These previous rulings led to many local authorities increasing their funding for social care charities to pay their sleep-in shift workers top-up fees in line with the minimum wage.
However, since the Court of Appeal ruling the council has now told its social care providers that from next year it will only provide enough funding to pay their sleep-in shift workers £4 an hour, in line with what the council will pay its own sleep-in shift workers.
The letter says: “From 1 April 2019 we will pay service providers a sleep-in fee that is aligned with the council's own employees' sleep-in payment arrangements.
“For 2019/20 this is set at £36.08 staff payment and equates to £47.43 provider payment; allowing for national insurance and pension costs.”
Others likely to follow
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) warned that many other councils are likely to follow suit by cutting their funding for sleep-in shift employees and called for central government intervention.
Steve Scown, chair of VODG, said: “We know that when one local authority makes changes to its payment practices, others may soon follow.
“For providers to be put on notice that the salaries of their staff could be reduced, at a time when the sector is still waiting for official guidance, cannot be right.
“We call on government, and the responsible ministers, to acknowledge the sector’s concerns and urgently deal with the situation. This issue will not go away and is set to intensify if left unaddressed.”
In September, HM Revenue and Customs told social care providers that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy was considering the implications of the Mencap judgment and would update their guidance, Calculating the Minimum Wage, in due course.
Meanwhile, workers union Unison has lodged an application to appeal the latest Mencap ruling in the Supreme Court.