If there is an expectation a carer will be able to sleep during their shift, rather than be available for the purposes of working, the Court of Appeal in the Royal Mencap Society case has decided a carer is not entitled to the national minimum wage during the sleep-in.

Carers are often required to stay at work or in a designated place in case they are needed during a night shift or out of ‘normal hours’. When they are called upon and undertake work, they should be paid the national minimum wage, but it has been less clear if the same applies when the individual can rest and sleep during the shift.

Although the individual may be restricted to a specific room or space, if there is an expectation that they will not be undertaking any duties or work during this time, they are not required to be paid the national minimum wage for the whole shift. The decision took into account the recommendations in the Low Pay Commission’s report.

Whilst this decision may be a relief to employers and an opportunity to review current practices, requirements and records, the decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court. It also remains uncertain how the decision may impact on other sectors, such as security workers and other individuals who are provided with sleep-in arrangements.