East Yorkshire carer loses Supreme Court fight for minimum wage on 'sleep-in' shifts

Carers who have to sleep at their workplace in case they are needed overnight are not entitled to the minimum wage for their whole shift, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Supreme Court justice Lady Arden dismissed carers' claim for £8.91-an-hour when they are sleeping, but on call, during the night.

Claire Tomlinson-Blake, a Mencap support worker in the East Riding of Yorkshire, appealed against a Court of Appeal ruling that carers are only entitled to the minimum wage when they are required to be awake for work - and not while asleep.

She challenged the decision at the UK's highest court at a hearing in February last year.

In the court's written ruling, Lady Arden said that "sleep-in workers ... are not doing time work for the purposes of the national minimum wage if they are not awake".

Mencap also supported the ruling, saying although they recognise many carers will be disappointed, charities and providers would have faced millions of pounds in back-pay.

The charity argued that an estimated £400m across the industry, would hit small providers and individuals who pay out of personal budgets.

"It is no exaggeration to say that if the ruling had been different, it would have severely impacted on a sector which is already underfunded and stretched to breaking point", said Edel Harris, chief executive of the Royal Mencap Society.

"Some providers would have gone bust and, ultimately, the people who rely on care would have suffered." The judge also added: "The arguments in this case were completed before the first coronavirus lockdown, which has introduced stay-home measures for many workers.

"We have therefore had no argument as to any effect of those measures on the calculation of the national minimum wage. I wish to make that clear."