UNISON slams charity for not paying minimum wage back pay

Friday 1 May 2015

UNISON is furious that The Richmond Fellowship Scotland is refusing to pay hundreds of pounds in back pay to staff who have not been paid the national minimum wage.

The trade union will be taking legal action against The Richmond Fellowship Scotland, who provides care services across Scotland.  UNISON believe The Richmond Fellowship Scotland has broken the law by paying their workers a flat rate payment for overnight stays which gives an average pay for some staff well below the national minimum wage.

After campaigning by UNISON, The Richmond Fellowship Scotland recently sent a briefing to all staff which agrees to pay the national minimum wage from April 1st  2015, saying UK ‘Government guidance’ confirms that sleepover hours should be counted as working hours (and therefore covered by the national minimum wage).  However The Richmond Fellowship Scotland has refused to discuss any back pay which is owed to UNISON members.

UNISON will be lodging appeals with the employment tribunal for the full five years of back pay owed to its members.

UNISON is in constructive negotiations with many other charities in Scotland on this  issue and is finding solutions which ensure that these charities pay the minimum wage.

Deborah Dyer, UNISON regional organiser for the third sector said, ‘We are furious with the Richmond Fellowship Scotland. Refusing to pay staff the minimum wage is a very serious matter they have left us no choice but to start litigation proceedings. Staff at Richmond work incredibly hard providing vital care to some of our most vulnerable people and they deserve decent pay and conditions – and not to be fighting with their employer for their legal right to back pay for non payment of the minimum wage. We are still urging Richmond to get back round the table with us to find a solution.’

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Sectary said, “We understand the difficulties charities face but you cannot survive with a business model which fails to pay staff the minimum wage. This leaves care workers stressed and frustrated, unable to plan their lives, pay their bills or do their job properly. And it means elderly and vulnerable people do not get the service they deserve. The Richmond Fellowship has left us with little choice but to deal with this through legal proceedings. We hope, even at this late stage, they will get back round the table to find a solution’


For more information please contact:
Deborah Dyer, UNISON regional organiser, 07538101225
Danny Phillips, UNISON communication officer, 07944 664 110

Notes to editor

1. UNISON is the biggest trade union in voluntary sector. It is the biggest trade union in Scotland. It has been campaigning for care staff across all sectors to get the national minimum wage, training and time to care for their clients.

2. The Richmond Fellowship Scotland is the largest provider of social care services in Scotland, supporting over 2800 people across Scotland with a broad range of needs. More details of the organisation can be found here:http://www.trfs.org.uk/who_we_are

3. The briefing for Richmond Fellowship staff said:

  • ‘UK Government guidance has now confirmed that sleepover hours can be counted as working hours. What this means is that we will now take all the money paid to you in a pay reference period (for us that is one month as we are paid monthly) and divide it by all the hours worked in the same period (including your sleepover hours and any additional hours worked) and divide one into the other to find the average rate of pay. If it is under NMW then you will be paid a sum of money to make up the difference.’
  • ‘Therefore, from 1st April 2015 you may on occasion see in your payslip an amount of money under the heading “slp top-up”. The amount of top-up is dependent on your basic hours, the number of sleepovers you do, the length of the sleepovers, any additional hours you do and any periods of absence, therefore there may be times when you receive a top-up and other times when you don’t as the calculation is done individually by Payroll every month.’
  • ‘As the organisation pays additional hours and sleepovers a month in arrears, the first time you might see this will be in the May payslip’.