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If you work in Tesco, and your manager asks you to drive to another store to pick up something, you would be paid for your time travelling there and back. And an amount to cover your mileage.

If you work in Tesco and (unusually) there is no one in the shop, you would still be paid for your time.

If you work in Tesco and you are asked to work at week-ends or on bank holidays, you will be paid more.

Why then do local authorities not recognise that home care workers need to be treated the same way?

Most home care companies will design the work they roster for their workers in runs.

So a morning run will start around 0700, and go from client to client to client, perhaps finishing around 1100. There would ideally be limited travelling time between each visit

Lunches typically start around 11.30 and run to 14.30 or 15.00, and teas begin at 16.00 and go straight into the bed run, which finishes at around 22.00.

Companies can therefore offer their staff proper hours for each run, leading hopefully to a sustainable wage.

However ...

The vast majority of local authorities do not pay travelling time. This is evidenced partly by the low prices they demand, but also by the fact that visits of less than one hour must be charged pro rata to the hourly rate.

The vast majority of local authorities do not pay mileage.

The vast majority of local authorities do not pay when a client is in hospital.

So, if there are six clients on a morning run, and one client goes into hospital, the staff doing that run will earn less.

This is plainly unfair. If home care is going to be treated seriously as a career option, these issues must be addressed.

Next week we’ll suggest how.

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