Monday, July 26, 2021
HomeCarers on ‘sleep-in shifts’ not entitled to minimum wage, court rules

Carers on ‘sleep-in shifts’ not entitled to minimum wage, court rules

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Carers who have to sleep at their workplace in case they are needed overnight are not entitled to the minimum wage for their whole shift, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Claire Tomlinson-Blake, a Mencap support worker in the East Riding of Yorkshire, appealed against a Court of Appeal ruling that carers are only entitled to the minimum wage when they are required to be awake for work – and not while asleep.

She challenged the decision at the UK’s highest court at a hearing in February last year alongside a linked appeal brought by John Shannon, a Surrey care home worker whose case was heard along with Mrs Tomlinson-Blake’s at the Court of Appeal.

On Friday morning, the Supreme Court dismissed both Mrs Tomlinson-Blake and Mr Shannon’s appeals.

In the court’s written ruling, Lady Arden said that “sleep-in workers … are not doing time work for the purposes of the national minimum wage if they are not awake”.

She added: “The sleep-in worker who is merely present is treated as not working for the purpose of calculating the hours which are to be taken into account for national minimum wage purposes and the fact that he was required to be present during specified hours was insufficient to lead to the conclusion that he was working.

“I consider that the reasons for dismissing this appeal given by the (employment) tribunals and the Court of Appeal were correct.”

The judge also said: “The arguments in this case were completed before the first coronavirus lockdown, which has introduced stay-home measures for many workers.

“We have therefore had no argument as to any effect of those measures on the calculation of the national minimum wage. I wish to make that clear.”

It comes after the court heard how Mrs Tomlinson-Blake received a salary for her full-time job helping vulnerable adults living in their own homes, and sometimes had to work a sleep-in shift between 10pm and 7am.

For those shifts, she was paid an allowance of £29.05, which included pay for an hour’s work.

She argued that she was always working even while asleep because she had to remain on guard in case of possible issues.

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