Sleep-in shift workers not entitled to minimum wage, rules UK Appeals Court Sleep-in shift workers not entitled to minimum wage, rules UK Appeals Court

Sleep-in shift workers not entitled to minimum wage, rules UK Appeals Court
24 Jul 2018

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that people undertaking sleep-in shifts are only entitled to minimum wage payments when they are awake.

The decision also reversed government guidance that meant care sector employers owed staff six years of back pay, which amounted to a settlement of £400 million (US$521 million)

The situation came about after the highest court in the land overturned previous decisions that sleep-in shift workers should be entitled to the minimum wage. The Court ruled that only the hours spent awake count as work, following an appeal by the social care sector.

Carers had previously been paid a flat rate when staying overnight with the people they support. Under guidance issued by the Government when the minimum wage was introduced in 1999, disability charities that requested carers look after someone overnight were required to pay a flat rate 'on call' allowance of £25 (US$33) or £35 (US$46) to cover the period when they were asleep.

But following two tribunal cases in 2015 and last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy changed the guidance in October.

As a result, the organisations were required to pay the minimum wage throughout the shift, which meant that overnight carers earned £60, even if they slept through the night for eight hours. HM Revenue & Customs demanded employers also pay six years’ worth of missing payments and started enforcement actions. 

Trade union Unison said it was a disgrace that carers would continue to be “paid a pittance” despite the significant responsibilities of the role.

The union’s general secretary Dave Prentis told The Independent: "The blame for this sorry state of affairs that’s hitting some of the country’s lowest paid workers must be laid at the Government’s door. Ministers are so consumed by Brexit that they’re ignoring huge problems around them.”

Although social care was in crisis, this situation would not have arisen if the Government had put enough money into the system and enforced minimum wage laws properly in the first place, he added.

Learning disability charity Mencap is now calling for the Government to legislate quickly in order to give all carers an increased rate for overnight shifts, and to boost social care budgets accordingly.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that people undertaking sleep-in shifts are only entitled to minimum wage payments when they are awake.

The decision also reversed government guidance that meant care sector employers owed staff six years of back pay, which amounted to a settlement of £400 million (US$521 million)

The situation came about after the highest court in the land overturned previous decisions that sleep-in shift workers should be entitled to the minimum wage. The Court ruled that only the hours spent awake count as work, following an appeal by the social care sector.

Carers had previously been paid a flat rate when staying overnight with the people they support. Under guidance issued by the Government when the minimum wage was introduced in 1999, disability charities that requested carers look after someone overnight were required to pay a flat rate 'on call' allowance of £25 (US$33) or £35 (US$46) to cover the period when they were asleep.

But following two tribunal cases in 2015 and last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy changed the guidance in October.

As a result, the organisations were required to pay the minimum wage throughout the shift, which meant that overnight carers earned £60, even if they slept through the night for eight hours. HM Revenue & Customs demanded employers also pay six years’ worth of missing payments and started enforcement actions. 

Trade union Unison said it was a disgrace that carers would continue to be “paid a pittance” despite the significant responsibilities of the role.

The union’s general secretary Dave Prentis told The Independent: "The blame for this sorry state of affairs that’s hitting some of the country’s lowest paid workers must be laid at the Government’s door. Ministers are so consumed by Brexit that they’re ignoring huge problems around them.”

Although social care was in crisis, this situation would not have arisen if the Government had put enough money into the system and enforced minimum wage laws properly in the first place, he added.

Learning disability charity Mencap is now calling for the Government to legislate quickly in order to give all carers an increased rate for overnight shifts, and to boost social care budgets accordingly.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

MORE ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Myanmar introduces controversial new minimum wage

Malaysia to introduce sector-based minimum wage policy

Washington DC considers repealing minimum wage increases for tipped workers

 

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