Scots tribunal orders care home worker to be paid for sleepovers

Public sector union Unison has said that too many private care
home owners in Scotland are still unaware of regulations governing
payment of staff for night working.

The warning comes after a care assistant at a residential care
home for vulnerable adults was awarded £4,772 compensation by
an Edinburgh employment tribunal for money she was entitled to for
“sleepover duty” at night.

Denise McCole, a care assistant at Glenbank care home in Fife,
was paid only a £10 allowance for sleeping on the site between
11pm and 7am. But she argued she was entitled to be paid her
daytime hourly rate of £4.50 because her sleeping hours were
disturbed by one or more residents during the night and she had to
get out of bed to tend to them.

The tribunal ruled she should be paid for her hours on duty
throughout the night whether she was asleep or awake as she was in
sole charge of the home and was expected to deal with any
emergencies. “To that extent we do not think it is correct to say
she was ‘on call’ and it is more accurate to say she was on duty
even when she was asleep,” it added.

A Unison spokesperson said the rules governing care home
employees’ night working had been established a few years ago by a
tribunal, “and it is up to employers at all levels to be aware of

“Where you have small voluntary and private sector employers
there is more likelihood some of them are not completely au fait
with employment law. But sleepover duty has been established as
working,” he said.

After her requests to be paid for the extra work were rebuffed
by the home’s manager, McCole left the job. The tribunal ruled this
constituted constructive and unfair dismissal and that she was
entitled to interpret the manager’s response as refusal to pay her
or discuss the matter properly. The home was closed in April 2004
as it was losing money.

Scottish Care, which represents care home owners in Scotland,
was unavailable for comment.


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