Workers in homes for intellectually disabled adults are paid just $34 a night for sleeping in the IHC home. IHC used to mean “intellectually handicapped children” but now it is “people with intellectual disabilities”, adults and children. If adults cannot look after themselves, they live in small homes with about five people and someone to care for them.
A typical care worker who stays overnight, starts work at 4pm and finishes at 9am the next day. The pay from 4pm to 10pm and from 7am to 9am is about $17 an hour. At night time, from 10pm to 7am, they sleep in the home and earn $34 for the night. However, if they have to get up to help someone during the night, they get the regular hourly rate, about $17 an hour.
Workers thought they should be paid the regular hourly rate for staying at the IHC home overnight. They said it is a responsible job staying overnight in the home because many of these people have health problems. They also said that sleeping at the home is not the same as sleeping in their own home. Also, if they have to get up in the night it is not easy to get back to sleep. They took this case to the Court of Appeal and the court agreed with them. The Court of Appeal said they should be paid the minimum wage for working at night. At the moment, the minimum wage is $13 an hour. These workers should also get back pay for the last five years.
The government says there is not enough money. There are 800 IHC homes. It would cost another $50m to pay workers the minimum wage for staying overnight and another $350m for back pay.
The CEO of IHC says these workers get more than the minimum wage so the average pay per week including overnight stays, is still very good. What do you think?
IHC likes to put people with intellectual disabilities into small homes of about five people instead of big homes or hostel of 100 or more. They are part of the community and not hidden away. What do you think?