Judges in the UK’s highest court on Friday dismissed appeals against previous court rulings by two social workers.
Healthcare organizations said the move meant the industry had avoided a ‘potentially catastrophic financial result’ and estimated the arrears of £ 400million.
Claire Tomlinson-Blake, a Mencap assistant in the East Riding of Yorkshire, had appealed a Court of Appeal ruling that caregivers are only entitled to minimum wage when required to be awake to work – not while they sleep.
She challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court alongside a related appeal by John Shannon, a Surrey nursing home worker whose case was heard with Ms Tomlinson-Blake at the Court of Appeal.
In Friday’s 32-page written Supreme Court decision, which followed a hearing in February last year, Lady Arden said “sleeping workers … are not working on time for the purposes of the national minimum wage.” they are not awake. “.
Matthew Port, partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors – who represented Care England, the body that represents independent care providers and intervened in the Supreme Court case – said the care providers avoided a “potentially financial result. catastrophic”.
“This case was not about the wages of social workers,” he added.
“Instead, he focused on interpreting national minimum wage regulations, the law and previous government guidelines making it clear that caregivers do not work while they sleep.
“Today’s judgment ends many years of uncertainty.
“It should be seen as a line in the sand, with the focus now on ensuring that changes are made in the way workers are paid to ensure appropriate compensation for sleep time. ”
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Edel Harris, chief executive of the Royal Mencap Society, said he understood that “many hard-working care workers will be disappointed” by the decision.
“Mencap has challenged this case due to the devastating unfunded payment arrears facing suppliers in the sector,” he added.
“It has been estimated at £ 400million. Sleep-ins are a statutory health care service that should be funded by local authorities and ultimately the government.
“It is no exaggeration to say that if the decision had been different it would have severely affected a sector that is already underfunded and strained to the breaking point. ”
Mr Harris called on the government to reform the legislation on sleep-in payments, which he called “outdated and unfair”.