Newcross Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest providers of agency care workers, has come under fire after a newspaper investigation revealed evidence it was fining workers £50 for calling in sick.
The investigation by The Guardian revealed the business failed to pay workers who did not give 24 hours’ notice when cancelling shifts because of illness as well as imposing fines.
Eileen Chubb, founder of Compassion in Care, said: “It is obscene that a company making millions of pounds in profit should be docking £50 from the wages of carers who phone in sick.
“It raises the serious risk that carers are turning up for work when they’re not well, putting vulnerable elderly people at risk. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Instances found by the investigation included one employee who said they were laughed at on the phone and fined after crashing their car and suffering serious injuries on their way to work.
Other examples of fines included a pregnant woman who said she was unable to drive into work because she was suffering from vertigo and people who had missed shifts because of a cancer scare.
Newcross said it was ending the practice of charging people £50 in April 2019 and said it was currently imposed on workers who were “genuinely ill”.
A spokesperson for the company said: “It is an administration charge applied if staff pull out of a shift with less than 24 hours’ notice for whatever reason. All of our employees sign up to this legally binding agreement as part of their contract of employment.
“The 24-hour protocol is to ensure there is no disruption in patient care and to protect those who rely on our employees to attend their shifts once they have accepted them. Patient care is absolutely paramount to us and we take very seriously our commitment to deliver for our clients and to follow Care Quality Commission, Care Inspectorate [Scotland] and CI and CIW Care Inspectorate Wales regulations.”