On April 1st 2016, the new National Living Wage will become law. However, if you are a ‘mobile worker’, such as a paid carer, cleaner or appliance repairer you may need to work out your equivalent hourly rate to check that you are getting the living wage or minimum wage. For this purpose it is important to understand what the Government counts as ‘working time’, as this may differ from the way in which your employer calculates the number of hours you have worked.
For example, Sue works as a carer. She is paid £9 an hour, but her employer only pays her for the time she is with a client. (She is paid travel expenses of 30p per mile between clients, but because this is an expense it does not form part of her salary). However, when she includes time spent travelling between appointments and deducts a break of 20 minutes for lunch in her car, she finds out she is actually being paid below the National Living Wage.
‘Working time’ for mobile workers includes time spent waiting to start a job, time spent with a client, travel time between clients and time spent training or travelling to training. At the moment, travel time between home and your first and last appointment or travel home for a scheduled break between appointments is not classified as ‘working time’ for the basis of the National Minimum Wage regulations. In addition, time away from work on rest breaks, holidays, sick leave or maternity leave does not count as ‘working time’.
If you think you are being paid below the National Living Wage you should speak to your employer in the first instance. If you were being paid less than the minimum wage prior to the 1st April 2016, you should ask for back pay. When applying for a new job, always calculate what your take home pay is likely to be in each case, in order to accurately compare rates of pay between jobs.
For more information about ‘working time’, the National Living Wage and how they affect you, visit www.acas.org.uk call the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100. There is also a useful online calculator at www.gov.uk which can help you calculate your hourly rate of pay.