‘Sleep-in’ rule may add to home costs

Care homes could be required to pay sleep-in
staff the national minimum wage for all the hours they are on the
premises, following a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal

James Wright, a nightwatchman for Scottbridge
Construction, was required to be on his employer’s Glasgow premises
for seven nights a week between 5pm and 7am. He claimed that he
should be paid the national minimum wage for all the hours that he
was present.

The main purpose for his presence was to
respond if an intruder set off an alarm. When he was not actually
working Wright was permitted to do as he pleased and sleeping
facilities were provided.

The EAT held that where an employer requires
an employee to be present on the premises for the purpose of his
duties for a specific number of hours, the employer is required to
remunerate the employee for all those hours, even where the
employee is permitted to sleep for some of the time if he chooses

Consequently, Wright was entitled to be paid
the national minimum wage for the whole 14-hour period that he was
on the employer’s premises each night.

John Clinch, legal officer for Unison, said:
“It could make a huge impact in care homes where workers do sleep
in by arrangement but are required to respond to emergencies as
they arise.”

Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National
Care Homes Association, said that if homes were required to pay the
national minimum wage for sleep-in staff it would result in
additional costs for smaller homes, affecting both the independent
sector and local authorities.

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