Sleep-in appeal to the Supreme Court is extremely good news

Now there’s the chance to clarify the law once and for all

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to grant permission for an appeal against last summer’s Court of Appeal judgment affecting care workers on sleep-in shifts is extremely good news, says UNISON.

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.

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.”

Notes to editors:
– The case taken by UNISON on behalf of Clare Tomlinson-Blake was successful at both employment tribunal (2016) and employment appeal tribunal (2017). But last July the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Royal Mencap Society. UNISON has now been given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
– Over 600 care support workers in the North West, employed by the Alternative Futures Group (AFG), have recently voted to take strike action over cuts to their pay for sleep-in shifts. They are facing a significant reduction in their wages and stand to lose as much as £15 for each sleep-in shift and more than £2,000 a year.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

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