Care worker should receive minimum wage for sleepover shifts, Employment Tribunal decides
A senior care assistant who carried out sleepover shifts was entitled to receive the national minimum wage for all her nights shift hours, regardless of whether or not she was actually working during that time, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently decided.
The employment tribunal found that the care worker was required to be on the residential care home’s premises throughout the sleepover shift and that she could be required to undertake a variety of duties during the shift. Judges concluded that since the residential care home had a legal obligation to have a person with the respective nurses’ qualifications on site at all times, she was being paid to satisfy this requirement. Her mere presence was therefore enough to constitute working time for national minimum wage purposes.
The case creates a precedent and is quite important for employers in the care sector who have a regulatory or statutory requirement to have qualified persons present during sleepover shifts and who are not currently paying such employees the national minimum wage.
Also of concern for employers is that the government recently increased the financial penalties for employers who fail to pay national minimum wage. With more government proposals in the pipeline to raise penalties for national minimum wage abuse even further, the potential liability for employers could increase dramatically.
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