There has been a huge recent development which sleep-in carers across the country will want to be aware of, potentially changing the lives of carers everywhere. The case has even excited the interest of the newspapers.

Should carers be paid the minimum wage during sleep-ins? There has been a wide range of academic opinion and conflicting cases. Some have argued that being paid the minimum wage whilst sleeping is outrageous. However, carers will rightly reply that they need be ready to wake up and provide support.

Some caselaw in the past supported the carers’ argument, saying that carers were entitled to the national minimum wage during sleep-ins, eg with night-watchmen, nurses answering non-emergency calls and care home managers. But the case of Tomlinson at the Court of Appeal has overturned them. The days of carers earning the minimum wage whilst they sleep are over.

Carers will now be classed as “available to work” under the National Minimum Wage Regulations. But they are not entitled to pay if “by arrangement” they sleep “at or near a place of work and are provided with suitable facilities for sleeping”. This would cover situations where someone is given a bed and told to sleep, but not ones where a mattress is put in an office and they are permitted to sleep.

So, what does this mean? Firstly, as we’ve already said carers will no longer be given the minimum wage whilst they sleep. Naturally, this will be seen as a source of frustration for many carers across the country as they are set to see their earning decrease significantly. But it’s good for charities such as Mencap and others that provide care, as the practice of paying a flat fee (£20 to £40) for a sleep-in has effectively been approved by the second-highest court in the land.

The courts haven’t completely removed the idea of carers being paid during sleep-ins. If carers are woken during the night then they are entitled to be paid for their work.

By Samuel Tahir

Image used under CC courtesy of Hugues.

Case report: Tomlinson-Blake v Mencap 2018 EWCA CiV 1641