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

Caregivers who have to sleep at work if they are needed overnight are not eligible for the minimum wage for their entire shift, the Supreme Court ruled.

Claire Tomlinson-Blake, an employee of Mencap in the East Riding of Yorkshire, appealed an appeal court ruling that caregivers are only entitled to the minimum wage when they have to be awake to work – not when they are asleep.

She challenged the decision in the UK Supreme Court at a hearing last February, along with a related appeal from John Shannon, a Surrey nursing home worker whose case was tried in the Court of Appeal along with that of Ms. Tomlinson-Blake .

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

In the court’s written decision, Lady Arden said that “sleep workers … do not do temporary work for national minimum wage purposes when they are not awake”.

She added: “The sleeping worker who is merely present is treated as not working for the purposes of calculating the hours to be taken into account for national minimum wage purposes and the fact that he had to be present during certain hours was not sufficient, to conclude that he was working.

“I am of the opinion that the reasons for the rejection of this appeal by the (labor) courts and the appeals court were correct.”

The judge also said: “The arguments in this case were finalized before the first coronavirus lockdown, which put in place measures to stay at home for many workers.

“We therefore had no arguments for the impact of these measures on the calculation of the national minimum wage. I want to make that clear. “

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