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Appeal court rules flat rate for sleep-in care workers is fair

Published 30 August 2018

The court of appeal has overturned a ruling on payments for care workers who carry out “sleep-in” shifts for clients with learning disabilities, potentially averting a crisis that employers claim would have jeopardised the care of vulnerable people.

A court ruled last year that care workers should be paid the national minimum wage (NMW) for every hour of a sleep-in shift, rather than a flat rate – in effect doubling the cost of a shift to £60. It said providers should be liable for six years of back-pay to carers.

On Friday, the court reversed the back-pay decision and ruled flat-rate payments were fair, meaning sleep-in shift care workers could receive the full rate only for those hours during which they were awake and assisting the client.

Employers welcomed the ruling, saying the back-pay liability, collectively estimated at about £400m, would have bankrupted many providers. But they called on the government to issue new guidance on how workers are to be paid for sleep-in shifts, and properly fund the costs.

Derek Lewis, the chairman of the learning disability charity Mencap, which brought the appeal, said: “The prospect of having to make large unfunded back payments had threatened to bankrupt many providers, jeopardising the care of vulnerable people and the employment of their carers.”

He said Mencap had been paying for sleep-ins at the higher rate for more than a year and intended to continue doing so despite the court’s decision. “We now call on government to fulfil its responsibilities by legislating so that all carers are entitled to this, and their employers are funded accordingly,” Lewis said.

“We also call on government to ensure that the social care sector and, in particular, the specialised support that is required for people with a learning disability, is properly funded and its workers are paid what they deserve in the future.”

Unison called the decision a “mistake” that would enforce “pittance” pay on care workers. The union said it was considering an appeal to the supreme court.

It argued most care workers should be paid the full rate for sleep-in shifts because they are on constant call, are regularly up during the night to assist the client, and are not free to leave their place of work.

See full artical:Guardian-https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/13/appeal-court-rules-that-flat-rate-payments-for-sleep-in-shifts-are-fair

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