By Tony Winterburn • 19 March 2021 • 20:02
Supreme Court Rules Overnight Carers Not Entitled To Minimum Wage. image: Pexels
Supreme Court Rules Overnight Carers Not Entitled To Minimum Wage.
The Supreme Court has ruled that care workers across the UK who have to sleep at their workplace in case they are needed are not entitled to the minimum wage for their whole shift. The case was brought by Clare Tomlinson-Blake against the learning disability charity, Mencap.
The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Mrs Tomlinson-Blake and Mr Shannon’s appeals in a ruling on Friday. This Supreme Court ruling means those on sleep-in shifts are not entitled to the minimum wage for their whole shift.
In the judgment, Lady Arden said a “sleep-in worker who is merely present is treated as not working for the purpose of calculating the hours which are to be taken into account for national minimum wage purposes”.
She added that “the fact that he was required to be present during specified hours was insufficient to lead to the conclusion that he was working”. If she had won, care providers feared an estimated £400m (approx €465) bill for back-pay, which they said they could not afford- the case sought to overturn a 2018 Court of Appeal ruling.
Her union, Unison, argued on her behalf that care staff should get the minimum wage for nightshifts even if they are asleep. Ms Tomlinson-Blake told the BBC she was “stunned” by the ruling.
“I was deeply disappointed. I thought this was an opportunity for things to change, and for health and social care workers to start to be valued more, and the work that they do, which is the most important work that you can ever do,” she said.
“Caring for another person that should be valued and just isn’t being.” She added: “Sleep-in shifts aren’t about just being on call. It’s work. Staff are constantly on guard to protect the most vulnerable in society. The sound of a cough in the night could mean someone’s in danger.” Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “No-one is a winner from today’s judgement.
“Everyone loses until the government intervenes to mend a broken system that relies on paying skilled staff a pittance.” Mrs Tomlinson-Blake, from East Yorkshire, was paid less than £30 (€34.95) by Mencap for a sleep-in shift between 22:00 and 07:00.
Although she could sleep, she was expected to keep a “listening ear” out for the home’s residents and provide them with support if needed during the night. Over 16 months, she was called on six times, receiving no extra money for the first hour she was disturbed, although after that she was paid at the full day-time rate.
A second case was brought by John Shannon, a Surrey care worker whose case was heard at the same time as Mrs Tomlinson-Blake’s. His case against his former employers was also dismissed.
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