Charity revealed to be paying staff £2.50 an hour

A charity has been accused of paying staff as little as £2.50 an hour to care for people with learning disabilities.

Enable Scotland, backed by the Duchess of Kent, also cancelled payments for volunteers working during the Christmas period, according to the Sunday Herald.

That’s despite public documents showing a budget surplus of £45,000 last year, as income increased by 4.8%.

Furthermore, the charity’s annual report states that the board "believe that a competitive salary alongside a fair and appropriate set of terms and conditions is ensuring our support staff know that the vital work they do is recognised and valued by the charity".

The pay debate between Enable Scotland and staff has forced trade union, Unison to investigate the claims that care assistants are being paid four pounds less than the national minimum wage.

The current pay is reflective of the number of hours staff were physically working, not the amount of time they were on duty.

An Enable shop steward wrote an email to management, saying: "I have received a number of queries from my colleagues regarding sleepover payments. Most did not think they were being paid the right rate."

Dave Moxham, Co-Chairman of the Scottish Living Wage Campaign said: "It is entirely unacceptable that those providing lifeline care services should be receiving what is in effect, less than the minimum wage.

"Recent employment tribunal judgments make it quite clear that those who are contracted to undertake sleepovers, with the expectation that at any time of night they will be required to deliver care, should receive payments during their hours which maintain their average pay above the legal minimum.”

He added: "It is also shocking to hear that a charity would use such underhand methods as to appeal for volunteers to undertake festive season shifts on the expectation of a pay bonus and then reverse the previous practice of giving a bonus when the volunteers have been found.

"It is precisely this kind of practice which undermines workers' morale, with inevitable consequences for the overall quality of care."

Regional Organiser Deborah Dyer said: "While we have been working with Enable Scotland to achieve a living wage for all Enable staff, this has yet to be achieved. Unison is currently engaged in negotiations with Enable Scotland on a number of issues including pay.

"We have further meetings scheduled and look forward to positive engagement with the new interim chief executive, Theresa Shearer, to resolve some of the pay concerns being raised by staff."

A spokeswoman for Enable Scotland said: "We value our staff, and would have loved to have also continued to offer our festive bonus payments in addition to this salary uplift last year.

"Unfortunately, the reality of the challenging economic climate for our sector resulted in us being unable to do both the salary increase and a bonus in 2014. We took the decision that we wanted all of our staff to be better paid every day, every month of the year, and not just at Christmas and New Year."

The spokeswoman added: "We are currently working in partnership with Unison to further increase hourly rates from £7.80 to £7.85, which is the current living wage."

However, she admitted a "small number of staff" are paid the sleepover rate of £25.77 – which is currently under review.


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