Many businesses, particularly in the care sector, will be relieved that the Supreme Court has today handed down its judgment that those required to sleep in premises overnight will not qualify for the national minimum wage (NMW) in respect of the whole time sleeping.
The cases of Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake and Shannon v Rampersad and another (T/A Clifton House Residential Home) had involved two care workers who had been provided with accommodation and allowed to sleep at night during their night shifts. Their presence was required only so they could “keep a listening ear out” and be ready if those they were caring for needed assistance. They were both paid an allowance rather than the NMW for the amount of time they spent on the premises during the night.
They claimed that they should be paid the NMW rates for the full length of their shifts rather than just an allowance.
The Supreme Court decided that where the worker is permitted to sleep during the shift and is only required to respond to emergencies, the only hours for which NMW need be paid are those when the worker is awake and attending to the emergency. The time spent asleep was not working time that had to be taken into account for the purposes of calculating NMW.