Mencap has encouraged other social care charities not to cut pay for overnight on-call “sleep-in shift” workers, after a court case involving the charity last year ruled that they were not necessarily entitled to the full minimum wage.
A Court of Appeal judgment in July last year overturned previous court rulings from 2016 and 2017 that said sleep-in shift workers should be entitled to the full minimum wage.
These previous rulings had led many social care charities to pay their sleep-in shift workers top-up fees in line with the minimum wage.
While Mencap has pledged to continue paying sleep-in shift workers top-up fees, some charities such as Alternative Futures Group (AFG) have since announced plans to cut these extra payments.
But writing for Charity Finance magazine, Angela Buxton, Mencap’s people director, said that her charity could not be held responsible for other charities’ pay decisions and encouraged them not to cut funding as the issue remains unresolved.
She also called for frustrated employees of other organisations who have had wages cut to focus their campaigning efforts on the government rather than Mencap itself.
In response to the Mencap ruling last July, the #awakeonasleepin group on social media has formed as a forum for social care workers to share their negative experiences of sleep-in shifts and poor pay.
Buxton said: “We are relatively well-known because of our campaigning work and so it is natural that we are a focal point for complaint.
“It is also a very complex issue and it is easy to portray us as ‘not wanting to pay the National Minimum Wage’ rather than fighting liability for the back-pay for which we had not been funded.
“There has been a huge outpouring on social media about the court case and some poignant blogs and posts from care workers on a sleep-in, but as far as we can tell, none of them currently work for us.
“I am very sorry for people who have had their wages cut, but we can’t be held responsible for decisions made by other providers.
“If we can hold tight, then so can they.
“And people would be much better off calling for government – who after all caused this problem in the first place – to legislate so that everyone will get paid fairly and to increase the funding available for social care.”
Workers union Unison has lodged an application to the Supreme Court to appeal the Mencap ruling, which has yet to be approved.
Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full article by Angela Buxton here.