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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

Veale Wasborough Vizards , 07 AUG 2017

Government Sets Out Temporary Measures to Support Social Care Sector

Government Sets Out Temporary Measures to Support Social Care Sector
Eleanor Boyd
Veale Wasbrough Vizards

On 26 July 2017, the government announced some temporary measures to support the social care sector, aimed at minimising disruption and in particular, ensuring that workers receive...

...the wages they are owed under the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 (NMW Regulations).

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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for taking enforcement action against any employers who do not pay their workers the correct wage in line with National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation. It is currently investigating social care providers for underpayment of workers on 'sleep-in' shifts, which can be a particularly problematic area for employers.

The government has identified a number of significant challenges facing social care providers as a result of the cumulative liability of financial penalties and arrears of wages, including being unable to meet their obligations to repay their workers. Furthermore, in its latest announcement, it has acknowledged that written guidance on the NMW Regulations published before February 2015 was 'potentially misleading'.

In its recent announcement, the government has set out 'exceptional´ measures aimed at minimising disruption to the sector.

What Are the New Temporary Measures?

The government will waive financial penalties imposed on employers who are found to have underpaid their workers for 'sleep-in' shifts that took place before 26 July 2017 (this will not however affect the arrears of wages to be paid to workers in cases of underpayment of the NMW)

The government has adopted a policy of suspending enforcement activity by HMRC in respect of payment of 'sleep-in' shifts by social care providers until 2 October 2017 (this will apply to HMRC investigations where there may be an underpayment relating to 'sleep-in' shifts)

The government will work with representatives of the social care sector to identify how it may be possible to minimise any impact of this suspension on the provision of social care services

The above measures are temporary, and any employer found to be underpaying their workers for 'sleep-in' shifts after 26 July 2017 will be liable to pay financial penalties of 200% of the arrears, in the usual way.

How Will the Temporary Measures Affect You?

These temporary measures apply only to employers in the social care sector, and are intended to allow some breathing space whilst the government consults with representatives on providing some clarity in this area.

We will keep you updated with developments in this area. In the meantime, employers in the social care sector are advised to review their existing night working practices and seek advice where necessary to ensure compliance with NMW legislation.