Case Study from First Choice Care Limited
Supplier: Avensure Ltd
Client: First Choice Care Limited
About First Choice Care Limited:
First Choice Care Limited operates two care homes in London offering residential care services to young adults with mental health conditions.
On their quest to providing high quality mental health care they pride themselves on tailored and culturally specific care and support and with this have two sub-specialisms:
- Asian Service Users – Having a number of Asian Service users First Choice Care Limited ensure that they each individual receive tailored and culturally specific care and support, including such things as; authentic Gujarati meals and Gujarati / Hindi speaking staff on duty, who also assist them to attend Asian day centres.
- ‘Forensic’ service users – Meaning that First Choice Care Limited have been referred through the criminal justice system and are subject to Ministry of Justice conditions. They have a good track record of looking after people on Section 37/41 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Why did First Choice Care Limited need HR/Employment Law and Legal Assistance.?
As a care provider, it is imperative that policies reflect the care standards and regulations to ensure that the service users of First Choice Care Limited are protected. Employees need to be clear on what is expected of them given the strict legal framework that all care providers operate.
First Choice Care Limited wanted to be seen as a reasonable and legally compliant employer and decided to work with Avensure to ensure their policies and practices were up to date and to provide commercially focussed and accurate legal advice on their HR issues.
How did Avensure help address their HR issues?
It has been custom and practice in the care industry to pay a set amount for ‘sleeping night’ shifts where carers sleep on the premises and attend to service users if needed. In May 2014, the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided in Esparon t/a Middle West Residential Care Home v Slavikovska that sleep in shifts should be counted as working time for the purposes of the National Minimum Wage Regulations.
Naturally, many carers started to question their rates of pay and began to seek legal advice. The case impacted on all care providers; many of whom were worried about the financial impact this decision would have on the business.
With assistance from Avensure, First Choice Care Limited brought in a new pay structure for sleep-in shifts and increased the rate for day shifts meaning that the business is fully compliant with the law and staff are rewarded for their hard work.
A small number of night staff could potentially have brought claims. The legal team at Avensure worked hard on behalf of First Choice Care Limited to negotiate with their representatives and reach an agreement which the employees were happy with but also protected the business. The staff continued their employment and the parties were able to maintain a good working relationship.
Unfortunately earlier this year, a member of staff left the business having admitted to stealing from service users and has since been convicted in the criminal courts and sentenced. He brought a tribunal claim for pay received during sleep in shifts and resisted any offers for his employer to make a payment to the service users who were victims of his crimes.
Avensure represented First Choice Care Limited throughout the tribunal process. Thanks to the legal team’s detailed knowledge of employment law and the tribunal process, it was argued that the claim not only was miscalculated but that it was also out of time. The tribunal agreed and struck out the claimant’s claim of over £16,000.
Mr. Gandhi, Managing Director, says of the service:
“I am really happy about the outcome, which would not have been possible without expert representation and an experienced team. I was anxious about the possible outcome and the effects of a high pay out to the claimant, who was quite clearly being unreasonable and vexatious throughout the process.”
What services do Avensure provide First Choice Care Limited?
HR and Employment Law
- Bespoke HR Documentation: Contracts and Handbooks and guidance on implementation.
- Immediate 24/7 advice on all ongoing HR and Employment Law issues.
- Online access to stationary forms via Avensure Locker
- Access to our own dedicated Employment Law Consultant, Rebecca Young who is invaluable.
- Access to a team with a vast range of experience in Employment Law Contracts and HR.
- Insurance to cover all legal and tribunal representation costs including all compensation awards.
- Barrister trained legal advisors.
- Training to help understand Employment Law and HR issues better.
What would you say to someone thinking of using Avensure’s services?
“I had looked at various companies offering Employment Law Advice and some were very persistent in their calls. For me, I chose Avensure because I have a dedicated advisor, Rebecca Young, who is accessible and answers my queries promptly. This way, I get consistent and friendly advice rather than having to speak to several different advisors over a single issue. Overall my experience of the service from Avensure has been very positive and responsive, a service which I needed at a critical time for the business. “