Sleeping in Shifts and compliance with National Minimum Wage Regulations

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2018 Community Service Group Conference
20 October 2017

Conference notes that in the past year our union has once again been leading the way on the issue of payment of the statutory minimum wage for sleep-in shifts. Many Community members carry out sleep-in shifts and have often been paid less than the legal minimum for their work.

By any reasonable definition of the word, these shifts must be considered as ‘work’ for the purposes of calculating if an employee has been paid the legal minimum. These staff are disciplined if they leave the place of work, they have work responsibilities which they carry out and they can’t spend time with their friends and family. Workers are regularly engaged in active work during these shifts, often to care for people with substantial needs.

Given that this principal was eventually established both by HMRC and Government guidance, conference objects to the government’s decision to suspend minimum wage enforcement in the social care sector in the latter half of 2017.

Conference believes that those Charities who have campaigned for sleep in shifts to be exempt from minimum wage regulations are wrong and have risked the reputation of their organisations as a result.

Conference applauds those employers in the sector who have worked constructively with unions to ensure compliance and to deal with the issue of back pay.

Conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. Continue to lobby and campaign for the enforcement of regulations defining sleep-in shifts as ‘work’ for the purposes of national minimum wage regulations, including work with UNISON Labour Link and other stakeholders. This includes lobbying political parties in positions of power and influence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

2. Lobby and campaign for the funding needed in the sector, particularly via public sector commissioning, for this basic minimum requirement to be met. This includes working with the Health and Local Government Service Group Executives to highlight the issue.

3. Continue to highlight the issue in the media so that the public is better informed about possible breaches of minimum wage regulations.