Sleeping in and the minimum wage

Recent legal judgements mean that an employer who requires workers to a sleep in at their workplace must include that time in calculations for the national minimum wage.

This means that members, and potential members, who sleep in and are low paid, may be entitled to a pay rise and possible back pay.

This issue will particularly affect low-paid members in the private or community and voluntary sector who do regular sleep-ins. 

However, some employers may not be able to afford a straight pay rise and this could lead to detrimental implications for other terms and conditions.

UNISON’s approach is to negotiate with employers to resolve the issue.

Cases for back pay can also be quite complex. No legal cases should be set in motion without first checking with the union’s legal service.

UNISON has produced guidance on negotiating and organising over sleep-ins.

This can be downloaded at – but it is member-only content and you will need to sign in to the website to download it.

Members who are paid significantly more than the national minimum wage and who do sleep-ins will not be affected if their average pay over the period does not fall below the minimum wage.

Workers who are on-call but not not required to sleep in will also not be affected.

Sleep-ins and the naitonal minmum wage: guidance for negotiators and organisers

UNISON Knowledge: the minimum wage

(NB: both links require you to be signed in to the UNISON site)