Today, 13th July, the court has ruled in favour of Mencap in the case over sleep-in back pay. This overturns an employment tribunal which ruled that workers were entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for every hour of a sleep-in shift.
Reacting to the decision, the #SolveSleepIns Alliance, a coalition formed to deal with the sleep-in crisis which represents providers for people with learning disabilities in the UK, is calling on the Government to legislate for all care workers to be entitled to the NMW for all shifts, including sleep-ins, and to raise the level of funding provided to Local Authorities (LAs) and care providers in line with new legislation.
The 2015 case resulted in HMRC pursuing care providers offering sleep-in services for six years of back pay for all staff who had performed sleep-in shifts. This bill was estimated to be around £400 million in total for the entire care sector. In 2017, HMRC set up the Social Care Compliance Scheme which gave care providers one year to self-assess their liability and a further three months to pay back workers. Notably, this scheme offered no assistance to providers in assessing their liability, locating their past staff of up to six years ago nor any information on how past and current employees would be paid. Government did not increase money going to LAs or care providers for the sleep-in shifts moving forward nor any new money to cover the back pay.
Public services to care for people with disabilities are funded by LAs. Central Government funding is then provided to LAs who often contract with care providers to deliver services.