Court rules on carers’ pay for sleep-in shifts

budget 2021

Mencap has won its appeal in the Court of Appeal against an earlier ruling concerning workers sleeping overnight at the homes of disabled, elderly or vulnerable persons being cared for so they can be called upon if assistance is required.

In a ruling from the Employment Appeal Tribunal in April 2017, it was held that carers working sleep-in shifts were actively working and therefore entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The Court of Appeal ruling reverses that decision so that carers on sleep-in shifts should instead be treated as available for work and therefore need not be paid the NMW when asleep.

Following the April 2017 ruling, HM Revenue & Customs launched the Social Care Compliance Scheme as it looked to enforce back-dated NMW claims for affected sleep-in workers and invited employers in the social care sector to settle potential claims. The impact of the Court of Appeal ruling on the status of this scheme and any settlements already made is so far unknown.

The Court of Appeal ruling will be welcomed by charities operating in the social care sector, although the case could still be appealed to the Supreme Court so this may not be the final word on the matter.