The Government has launched a new sleep-in shift pay compliance scheme for social care providers that may have incorrectly paid workers below legal minimum wage hourly rates for sleep-in shifts.
Social care employers will be able to opt into the new Social Care Compliance Scheme, giving them up to a year to identify what they owe to workers, supported by advice from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Employers who identify arrears at the end of the self-review period will have up to three months to pay workers.
The Government says that the scheme has been designed to help ensure workers are paid what they are owed, while also maintaining important services for people who access social care.
HMRC will write to social care employers who currently have a complaint against them for allegedly underpaying minimum wage rates for sleep-in shifts to encourage them to sign up to the scheme. Employers that choose not to opt into the scheme will be subject to HMRC's normal enforcement approach. The Government is exploring options to minimise any impact on the sector.
VODG has responded strongly to the announcement saying that the Government has again failed to tackle the funding of sleep-in care. The national umbrella group, which represents disability charities, says the sleep-in crisis remains critical and unresolved despite repeated calls for action from across the social care sector. The new scheme means that HMRC could now actively pursue providers who believed they were acting within guidance which the Government has admitted was 'potentially misleading'.
VODG says that, while the latest announcement about a new Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) offers an apparent way forward, there are no assurances on how to fund the devastating retrospective cost, which could be as high as £400m. VODG says that Government's plans fall well short of what is necessary to remove the continuing damaging uncertainty.
VODG Chair, Steve Scown said, 'VODG has been engaging with the members about unclear regulations and guidance since 2012, and making representations to Government since 2014. Despite funding independent research, providing detailed analysis and information for the Department of Health as well as offering pragmatic solutions we find Government has done well to talk to itself, but not the sector.
'The announcement raises lots of uncertainties and unanswered questions which we shall be taking to Government. This situation risks yet more unintended consequences as the limbo for providers and personal budget holders continues.'