Court of Appeal tells care providers that ‘sleep-in’ shifts are not subject to the National Minimum Wage

The Court of Appeal has today delivered care providers a lifeline, saying that they do not have to pay staff the National Minimum Wage when working ‘sleep-in’ shifts.

The decision lifts an estimated £400m burden from care providers that would have pushed many into insolvency.

James Sage, Head of the Social Care team at Royds Withy King who specialises in advising care providers in England and Wales, said: “This Court of Appeal decision reverses an earlier decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal that found that sleep-in shifts in a care setting were working time for the purposes of national minimum wage laws.

“It is very welcome news for care providers and was a crucial outcome for the sector. But it is possible that the decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which will continue the uncertainty and anxiety felt by the sector. We hope this won’t happen.”

The decision also raises some serious issues that now need to be addressed.

James explained: “The Government, in response to the earlier ruling of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, introduced a Social Care Compliance Scheme for providers to declare their non-compliance to HMRC and repay staff.

“The Government must clarify what will happen to those providers who joined the Scheme and any HMRC enforcement action must be halted, at least until we know if the decision will be appealed.

“In the interim, care providers need to sit tight and continue contingency planning in case the decision is appealed.  The Government must take the opportunity to find a sensible solution to the funding crisis affecting the sector.”

James Sage is available for interview. He can be reached on:

01225 730231 or 07508 297597    Email

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