Care workers earning 'less than half the minimum wage' take legal action

A union is taking up a legal fight on behalf of a group of home care workers - who they believe earn less than half the minimum wage.

Unison will represent 17 home care workers employed across the London Borough of Haringey, arguing some individuals make as little as £3.27 an hour.

A number of care companies and the council will be taken to court, with Unison claiming widespread non-payment of the minimum wage.

The group, all but one who are women, are employed on controversial zero-hour contracts and care for residents across the borough - visiting people in their homes and sometimes providing 24-hour live-in care.

Unison argue some home carers might work away from home 14 hours a day, but receive payment for only half of them - equivalent to £3.85 an hour.

Live-in carers can earn even less, the union claims. This can be as little as £3.27 per hour.

The legal case centres largely on time spent travelling between people's homes.

Dave Prentis believes home care workers earn 'pitiful' wages Credit: PA

Unison said the UK's care system was in a "dire state," and that blame must stop with the Government.

"Without the dedication of these committed and caring women, and thousands of others like them across the UK, our care system would collapse", Unison's general secretary Dave Prentis said.

He said not enough money was channeled into care, and that the situation would only get worse as people begin to live longer.

Mr Prentis added: "The blame for the social care crisis must be laid at the Government's door.

"Ministers must get tougher with enforcing the law so firms aren't able to cheat their staff.

"More money must be put into care so that councils are not forced to tender contracts at a price they know decent care cannot be delivered.

"No wonder 15-minute care visits are now the norm, and there's widespread payment of illegal wages".