Care Staff Debt Collection

It is widely accepted that care home and nursing staff are underpaid for the level of skill and responsibility bestowed upon them. The average hourly rate for carers in 2021 was less than the national living wage, with most surviving on minimum wage. When a temporary worker agency came to Advocate and said they had £51K overdue after supplying carers to a nursing home, thoughts turned to the circa 4,700 hours worked by the team of dedicated and hard grafting individuals. Appreciate some agencies take a sizeable commission on billable hours, but our client is different. Their lean business model is dependent on high volume and low margins to maximise take-home pay.

Over 3 months, our client provided temporary staff to the Manchester-based care home, which boasts a Good CQC rating. Those 70 invoices represent the first, and last time the client will trade with this particular care home. In keeping with their efficient business model, our client had kept immaculate records for contracting the care home, providing staff, and billing. Further provision of staff was suspended in view of the first 2 months invoicing being outstanding and more invoices about to fall due from the final month of trade. Our client had paid the carers but was left carrying £51K when the care home ceased all communication. The only option remaining was to instruct Advocate, which the client gratefully did.

A Good Forgettery

On the first review of the file, it was clear the client had met all their contractual obligations. All timesheets were correctly completed, signed, and submitted. Invoices clearly referenced timesheets. All paperwork was sent by post and email with read receipts obtained for the latter. Less than 24 hours after Advocate commenced action, the debtor was suddenly willing to communicate, having ignored all our client’s chasing. As promptly as the care home asked for copy invoices and timesheets, we were able to provide them. A conversation with the debtor’s Head of Finance (HoF) revealed they had no knowledge of the staff provided or even engaging our client. It seemed the carers who provided thousands of hours of hard work were forgettable despite being there for 3 months. Our client doesn’t supply ghosts, so there must be a reasonable explanation?!?!

Debt Busters!

With a copy of the contract in hand, the HoF provided a reasonable explanation stemming from an unreasonable and recently dismissed care home manager. It turns out the manager, already on disciplinary, had disregarded the sign-off levels required to engage a new agency. Head Office had no idea that a new temporary worker agency had seamlessly provided staff for 3 months. The HoF had not been aware the hourly rate was more considerate of inflation than the minimum wage, as they were accustomed to paying. Having found invoices stuffed in random draws, the HoF respectfully conceded and made full payment of the £51K plus statutory late payment charges. The motive for the now disgraced manager’s actions is unknown. We’d hope it was to give a fair wage rather than anything more sketchy!

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