Local government union the GMB has vowed to fight to close the
loophole in the national minimum wage legislation after the Court
of Appeal rejected a claim by a care worker that she was paid much
less than the minimum wage.
Julie Walton claimed she was paid £1.31 an hour for caring for
a woman with learning difficulties who suffered from epilepsy in
the woman’s home. She slept on the premises and carried out a
number of tasks including washing and cooking for three days a
Her employer at the time, The Independent Living Organisation,
argued that Walton was only contracted to carry out specific tasks
which took about seven hours to complete, bringing her hourly rate
to around £4.60.
Lord Justice Aldous said that, under the terms of her contract,
Walton “was not paid by reference to the time for which she worked”
but “by reference to the tasks required” of her. He said six hours
and 50 minutes was “a realistic assessment of the time taken to
carry out the duties” she was contracted to perform.
The GMB argues that care assistants who are required to remain on
the service user’s premises to provide treatment fall under the
definition of “time work” and should get paid the minimum
GMB national legal officer Joe O’ Hara said: “The gap in
legislation is blatant and clearly discriminatory. This loophole
can be used by unscrupulous private companies to put profit before
patients and employees.”