Sleeping on the job – what should sleep-in shifts pay?

In the recent case of Mencap v Tomlinson-Blake, the Court of Appeal looked at the payment situation of carers who sleep in at a place of work but are technically “on call”.

Night shift work and sleep-in pay

In this case, the employee was a care support worker who looked after vulnerable adults with learning difficulties.  Her shift patterns meant that she was regularly required to sleep in at the premises she worked but had to be “on call” – i.e. available to wake up and provide assistance to her clients if needed.  This waking up was rare, having occurred only 6 times in 16 months.  She was paid a flat rate allowance for the sleep period but claimed that she should be entitled to the National Minimum Wage for the whole period she was present at work, whether awake or asleep.

Should you be paid when working a night shift or sleep-in and are on call?

The Court of Appeal’s decision in this case was that workers are only entitled to the National Minimum Wage when they are awake and available for work.  Being asleep does not count until the point of waking up and being available, so a flat rate allowance is perfectly acceptable.

Unsure on how to pay night shift  or sleep-in workers who are on call?

This decision will also be applicable to any similar cases where workers sleep in at their place of work.  If this applies to your business and you would like to know more, then please speak to your usual Backhouse contact today.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

Tel: 01245 893400
Email: [email protected]
Visit: 71 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex Cm1 1JU

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