*”Disabled people who employ personal assistants (PAs) are being investigated by the government for failing to pay their PAs the minimum wage during overnight “sleep-in” shifts.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has admitted to Disability News Service (DNS) that individual PA employers have been investigated, just like large service-providers such as Mencap.
The government has publicly warned – following a high-profile tribunal ruling involving the charity – that many care workers should have been paid at least the minimum wage for the hours when they were sleeping on an overnight shift.
Many of them should now be able to claim for up to six years back-pay.
But the revelation that individual disabled people who use PAs are also being pursued by HMRC for years of back-pay is now beginning to cause alarm in the independent living movement.
In April, the employment appeal tribunal ruled against Mencap and said the charity should have been paying care workers at least the minimum wage for “sleep-ins”.
Mencap is now appealing against the ruling.
The government took some action to try to calm fears about the impact on the care industry of the ruling yesterday (Wednesday) by temporarily suspending enforcement activity by HMRC – until 2 October – and scrapping fines for those who failed to pay sleep-in staff the minimum wage before 26 July 2017.
But the government statement also made it clear that it was committed to ensuring that “workers in this sector” would receive the back-pay “they are legally entitled to”.
And HMRC has today (Thursday) confirmed to DNS that it has been taking enforcement action against some individual disabled employers for allegedly failing to pay their PAs the minimum wage on overnight sleep-in shifts.
One such employer has contacted DNS to say she is being investigated by HMRC because of a complaint from a PA about back-pay dating back three years, although she has not yet provided any further details.
Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK), said she had heard from two other disabled people who employ PAs and have been under investigation by HMRC.”
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