Sheffield key-worker in fight for fair pay amid claims she received less than minimum wage

A woman employed on behalf of Sheffield Council has urged others to join a fight for fair pay amid claims she received less than minimum wage.

Friday, 13th November 2020, 5:00 pm

Kimberley Levick says she works for Shared Lives, a subcontracted company of Sheffield Council which provides care to vulnerable adults across the city.

The authority is accredited with the Living Wage Foundation meaning it commits to paying its workers a minimum of £9.30 an hour.

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Kimberley Levick, a carer and befriender for Shared Lives, is calling for fairer pair

However, carers working for Shared Lives allegedly receive the legal minimum wage of £8.72 an hour while working with clients – reducing to just £3.75 an hour while travelling between clients, something which Kimberley says accounts for at least a third of her working day.

Carers working for Shared Lives work on a self-employed basis, meaning they are not entitled to holiday pay, sick pay or the minimum wage.

“Bogus self-employment is used to mistreat people like me,” said Kimberley, who claimed to be a befriender for Shared Lives and a member of Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise.

"We provide an essential service in the community. We do not choose our clients and we do not set our own wages.”

Kimberley says that the council shut the service in March due to Covid-19, leaving her without and income and many vulnerable people with “no support whatsoever.”

She added: “I’ve been struggling to get by on Universal Credit. I can’t pay my bills. I have to use a foodbank. Care workers are key workers - I’m a key worker on Universal Credit. I was already living in poverty when I was working 30 hours a week for Shared Lives. Now it’s even worse.

“This is not how things should be. I’m passionate about the people I care for and the role and making things better for other people.

“Sheffield City Council need to pay everyone a real Living Wage - even those who are subcontracted.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Sheffield Council said the Shared Lives Service continues to provide support, friendship and care for people in the city.

"Our Shared Lives Carers and Adult Social Care Staff have been fantastic during the last months, and through their hard work, creativity and dedication have provided reassurance and stability for our service users during the pandemic.

“Befrienders work with clients who receive their primary care needs support from family/friends, supported living or residential care providers and they might take their client out shopping, to the cinema, bowling or other activities arranged by that individual or their family.

"Unfortunately due to government restrictions and the Covid-19 secure guidelines during lockdown most of the befriending social and leisure activities were not allowed to continue.

“Kimberley has never been a Shared Lives Carer or an employee of Sheffield City Council. She provided a befriending service on a self-employed basis, but has not done so since the end of March.”

Kimberley is now working with Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise to fight for a better wage.

For more information follow the group on Facebook; Twitter @SheffPayRise or email [email protected]

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.