Carers were left in tears yesterday after discovering their pay packet was empty.
The Mears Care employees had their wages docked hundreds of pounds due to an error at the company’s headquarters.
Earlier this month, some staff were overpaid. But although they agreed to give the cash back in installments, the company elected to reclaim all the money – up to £600 for some – from this week’s pay.
Last night union leaders voiced fears the situation – and the firm’s seeming lack of accountability – could drive good people away from the care sector.
The company offers care at home services, and is contracted to carry out work on behalf of social care authorities in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.
After it emerged that staff had been overpaid, a 12-week repayment plan was offered to employees.
But Unison claims Mears has denied having received calls from some workers who thought they had arranged them.
The alternative was it all being taken back at once, which is what happened yesterday.
There was additional confusion as some staff were expecting a back payment after being taxed too much during the company’s recent move from monthly to weekly wages.
Unison’s Aberdeen branch secretary Inez Kirk said: “These are dedicated care workers who give the most vulnerable in our society a decent life.
“Most are low paid, many are single parents, and this is not the first time they have been on the wrong end of payroll problems.
“It is completely unfair that they are suffering because of yet another administrative error from bungling managers.”
Last night, a spokesman for Mears Group said: “An overpayment was made to staff in May and we sincerely apologise for this error.
“Mears payroll understands some would have spent this money and have agreed payment plans with these employees of up to 12 weeks, depending on what they could afford.
“All of these payment plans have been actioned accordingly, however, for anyone who did not contact us, the full amounts have been taken from this week as per the letter.
“We would ask anyone with concerns to contact their line manager.”
The union is pushing for councils to improve how they source contractors to ensure companies are more accountable.