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WORKERS in the care sector in north-west England have been literally worried sick by underpayment of wages.
Public-sector union Unison said workers at Lifeways Group in Bolton, Greater Manchester, were suffering ill health through worries over paying their bills.
Lifeways Group operates nationwide providing care services for adults with learning disabilities, autism and brain injuries.
It has a contract with Bolton Council.
Unison investigated complaints from members about underpayment of wages and found “routine and habitual incorrect payment of wages.”
The union said that in a survey 72 per cent of the workforce said they had been underpaid in the last six months.
One worker said: “I absolutely love my job and the people I am working with, but I’m absolutely fed up having to chase Lifeways nearly every month for my correct wages. Pay day is so stressful and I dread having to look at my payslip.
“Every month the underpayment has an impact on me. I barely afford to pay the bills because I am owed outstanding wages and for the past few months, I have had to borrow money from my family.”
Unison North West regional organiser Dan Smith said: “Lifeways need to take action now to ensure staff are paid properly and on time.
“Care workers employed directly by local councils or the NHS do not suffer the indignity of having to plead with their employers to be paid correctly every month.
“This is yet more evidence of the failings of the private social care sector and the desperate need for social care services to be delivered by the public sector.”
A spokesperson for Lifeways said: “The figures quoted by UNISON bear no relation to the information we have from our payroll helpdesk regarding payroll issues, and we are disappointed that UNISON did not share their concerns with us before approaching the media.
“We take very seriously our obligations to our colleagues with regard to their pay.
We work very hard to ensure that all our colleagues are paid correctly and on time, and we actively encourage our people to contact us if they experience any problems.
“All our colleagues have direct access to the payroll helpdesk and a manager who has the authority to resolve any problems without delay.
“We are always seeking to improve how we work and will continue to do so.”
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