Good News for those needing sleep in-care

Sleep-in care workers not entitled to minimum wage, supreme court rules

Decisions means workers can only receive minimum wage when required to be awake for work

The supreme court has dismissed a claim by care workers who carry out “sleep-in” shifts that they should be paid the national minimum wage for hours when they are not awake and actively helping the client.

The decision ends a four-year legal battle involving two care workers and the learning disability charity Mencap that threatened to leave many care providers with a potential £400m back-pay bill and jeopardise the care of vulnerable people.

The court said care workers should only be paid the national minimum wage hourly rate on sleep-in shifts when they were awake for the purposes of working.

Before 2017 care workers on sleep-ins would be paid a flat rate, receiving an hourly rate only for the hours which they were awake for the purposes of working. This changed after fresh guidance said care workers should be paid the national minimum wage for all the hours they were at work, regardless of whether they were asleep.

A court confirmed this in 2017, in effect doubling the cost of a sleep-in shift to £60. It also said providers should be liable for six years of back pay to carers, leading to fears that care providers would be bankrupted.

A year later the appeal court reversed the back-pay decision and ruled flat-rate payments were fair, meaning sleep-in care workers could receive the full rate only for those hours during which they were awake and assisting the client.