Should you pay your workers for sleeping on the job?
By Karen Harvie
Two recent cases have rekindled the debate about when time spent at work but sleeping counts as working time for the purposes of the rules on National Minimum Wage. Below, we review these decisions and what they mean for employers.
In Esparon v Slavikovska a care worker successfully claimed that each hour of a sleep-in shift counted towards the time for which she should receive the minimum wage. A key factor that influenced the outcome was that her employers were required to have a suitable person on the premises, to comply with care home regulations.
In Whittlestone v BJP Home Support Ltd, a care worker successfully argued she had been underpaid in respect of sleep-overs. Key factors were that she was required by her contract to sleep-over, an express term of her contract stated that failure to do so would result in disciplinary action and there was evidence that she could not, as the judge put it, ‘slip out for a late-night movie or for fish and chips’. A further feature of the Whittlestone case is the finding that time spent travelling between assignments (Mrs Whittlestone had a number of service users to visit during a day) also counted as working time for minimum wage purposes…
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