The UNISON-backed case – taken on behalf of care worker Clare Tomlinson-Blake – argues that sleep-in shifts should count as working time and be paid at least hourly minimum wage rates.The decision, which is set to increase uncertainty in the sector, could see care providers forced to pay an estimated £400m in arrears allegedly owed to care workers deemed to be underpaid for overnight shifts.
The date for the Supreme Court hearing is yet to be set, but is likely to be no earlier than October.
Commenting on the news that permission to appeal has been granted UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is extremely good news. Last year’s judgment has meant uncertainty for employers and care staff alike. Now there’s the chance to clarify the law once and for all.
“Across the UK, thousands of care staff work sleep-in shifts looking after vulnerable adults and children, many with significant, challenging needs. As a society we should be celebrating the valuable job care workers do, not expecting them to survive on a pittance.
“Care employees are working on sleep-in shifts so this time should be counted as working time. They aren’t free to come and go as they please and, as often the sole member of staff, they’re likely to be on their feet for much of the night.
“Any local authorities or care providers seeking to take advantage of the uncertainty of the current situation by cutting pay rates now are acting
irresponsibly. Sleep-in shifts should continue to be treated as working time, and paid accordingly.”Dr Rhidian Hughes, VODG chief executive, said:
“The long-running uncertainty about payments and funding for sleep in work has created huge uncertainty in social care for many years. We have grave concerns over the lack of clear regulations. We are calling on government to consult widely with workers, employers, commissioners and other stakeholders and clarify what hard working staff are entitled to, and precisely how it, and commissioners, will fund essential overnight support.”
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.”