Sleep-in shifts court ruling

The Supreme Court has ruled that the national minimum wage does not apply to hours when workers are expected to sleep, including time when care workers are paid to sleep overnight in someone’s home on a precautionary basis. 

The LGA intervened in the case brought by Clare Tomlinson-Blake against the learning disability charity Mencap, which sought to overturn a 2018 Court of Appeal ruling. 

Had the appeal been upheld, care providers and councils providing social care would have faced massive bills for back pay, increasing the huge financial pressures they already face. The Supreme Court concluded there was an exemption in national minimum wage legislation that applied to sleep-ins. 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”.

An LGA spokesperson said: “This significant ruling is in line with councils’ and social care providers’ understanding of the law. As we said in our submission to the Court, the LGA strongly supports care workers being paid a fair wage for their valued work. 

“Of course, this decision does not remove the need for a sustainable funding settlement for adult and children’s social care, which includes important decisions on the workforce such as pay, recruitment and career development. 

“The Government should bring forward its proposals on adult social care funding as soon as possible.”

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