Mitie faces new minimum wage claims

Elderly Image copyright PA
Image caption Mitie has been accused of not paying carers the minimum wage

The BBC has learnt that Mitie's chief executive will meet government officials to respond to claims that it has not been paying the minimum wage.

The company owns one of the largest care providers in the UK.

In March, the BBC and Corporate Watch revealed that Mitie's MiHomecare was not paying the minimum wage to home care workers in two Welsh branches.

But we can now reveal evidence that suggests the company is not paying the minimum wage to some carers in England.

Several former and current MiHomecare employees in Devon and Surrey have told Corporate Watch, the investigative organisation, that they are not being paid for the time it takes to travel between clients and they are encouraged to cut visits short.

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Media captionCare worker: 'The pressure comes from the top to get as much money in.'

One carer's time sheets show that 40% of visits were "clipped", or cut short, over a two-week period.

MiHomecare said: "The quality of the care that we provide and the safety and dignity of our customers is our highest priority."

It was working ''on an individual basis'' with carers who had raised concerns, the company added.

MiHomecare, which is owned by the outsourcing giant Mitie, provides home care services to more than 10,000 elderly and disabled people in the UK.

The BBC understands that this week, Mitie's chief executive, Ruby McGregor-Smith, will meet senior officials at HMRC, the government department responsible for ensuring companies pay the minimum wage.

Image caption Mitie chief executive Ruby McGregor-Smith is to meet HMRC officials

One Devon care worker, who left the company earlier this year, told the BBC that her branch expected carers to clip visits, meant to last half an hour, to just 22 minutes: "They expect you to clip it to 22 minutes to give you an extra eight minutes to make up your travelling time to get you to the next call on time."

'Pressure from the top'

She also said that when elderly clients had a fall, carers were told by staff at the branch office to leave them on the floor. "They've just been told, 'Well, leave them, as long as the door's open, so the ambulance can get in and go on to your next call.'"

She said the carers did not have enough time to care and that the pressure was coming from the company's senior management. "I feel the pressure comes from the top to get as much money in, in as short a time as possible."

A Care Quality Commission inspection report into the Poole MiHomecare branch, published in December, said that all the carers they spoke to said they were unlikely to stay for the full length of any visit because they were rushing to the next call.

A CQC report into the Wiltshire branch published in March said some clients and their relatives had voiced concerns about the lengths of visits.

HMRC announced in February that it was investigating six of the UK's biggest providers of social care for elderly and disabled adults. It has promised to name and shame those companies found to be in breach of minimum wage laws.

Mitie, MiHomecare's parent company, posted a 21.5% rise in pre-tax profit to £68.4m for the year to 31 March 2014.

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