William Eichler 14 February 2019

Carers win right to appeal in £400m sleep-in shift battle

The Supreme Court has granted carers the right to appeal in the ongoing sleep-in shift legal battle with a the mental health charity Mencap.

A 2017 tribunal, ruling against Mencap, concluded support workers who do sleep-in shifts should be paid the hourly minimum wage for the periods they are asleep.

It ordered social care providers to pay their carers six years of back pay, a figure that amounted to £400m.

This ruling was, however, overturned in July last year — a decision Unison general secretary Dave Prentis characterised as a ‘mistake’.

‘Sleep-in shifts involve significant caring responsibilities, often for very vulnerable people,’ he said at the time.

‘With too few staff on at night, most care workers are often on their feet all shift, only grabbing a few minutes sleep if they can.

‘That’s why it’s such a disgrace that workers have been paid a pittance for sleep-ins — with some getting just £30 for a ten-hour shift.’

Unison have now been granted the right to appeal the July 2018 ruling.

Commenting on the decision, Matthew Wort, partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, said: ‘Today’s decision from the Supreme Court extends the period of uncertainty for a care sector desperate for extra Government investment.

‘The date for the Supreme Court hearing is yet to be announced, but it has confirmed to me today that it will not be until October 2019 at the very earliest.

‘Care providers are in urgent need of both consistency and clarity about sleep-in pay, but sadly the wait for a definitive final position on the issue is many months away.”

‘In the meantime, we hope commissioners of sleep-in care will maintain payments to providers, enabling them to continue their current pay practice for sleep-ins.’

For more on this story check out our feature, 'The sleep-in care crisis'.

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