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Minimum Wage & Travel Time

(2 Posts)
HouseOfGoldandBones Wed 05-Apr-17 15:25:22

Hi, hope someone can help.

I run a commercial cleaning business, and unfortunately can't pay any of the staff more than minimum wage.

I had an audit today from HMRC who are concerned that I do not pay the staff travel time between jobs, which would therefore take the pay rate to less than minimum wage.

However, the jobs the staff do are not done at specific times, so for instance a care worker will have certain jobs to do in a certain time frame but have to travel between them, so have to be paid for their travel time. but my staff may work on 2 or 3 different contracts, but can do these at any time in a 24 hour period (they have keys), so MAY travel between them, or they MAY go home between them, or may do some shopping etc.

AND, to further complicate matters, they may also work for other cleaning companies, so may fit in other jobs too.

HMRC have said they will speak to the staff to get their take on it (for what it's worth, the staff are happy with the arrangement, because they can work the hours to suit themselves, with no need to clock in & out at specific times).

All of the jobs they do are within a 4 mile radius, so the travel time would be minimal anyway, but if HMRC say they should be paid for this time, then this would push them to below minimum wage.

If HMRC say that they have to be paid for this time, this would mean that I would have to be specific about when the jobs are worked, and in what order, but the staff do not want this, as they want to retain the flexibility.

My concern isn't that we may have to make some payments to the staff, but more that the Company's details may be published to state that we are not paying minimum wage.

I've spoken with our Accountant, who has said that this is a "grey area" and that we should wait for HMRC's judgement, but, obviously this is concerning!

Does anyone have any knowledge, or know of any previous cases?

flowery Thu 06-Apr-17 11:16:18

I would recommend you find a local HR consultancy specialising in small business advice. Your accountant isn't wrong that it's complicated. There is case law around it, but no one on the internet will be able to find out all the specific details of your arrangements and advise how the relevant case may or may not apply, and what your vulnerabilities might be.

When you employ non-typical workers you are potentially vulnerable in a number of ways, NMW being one of them, so investing in proper professional advice is a sensible thing to do.

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