Major charity bodies have called on the Government to guarantee a minimum wage for sleep-in care workers.
The report, published by learning disability charity Mencap and social care union UNISON, comes after the Supreme Court rejected pleas that charities should “cover back pay” for social care staff paid below the legal minimum wage for night shifts.
The UK’s highest court said the hours employees are asleep do not have to be paid at minimum wage rates.
Under current rules, workers who are expected to sleep for most of a sleep-in shift will only be entitled to the National Minimum Wage when they are woken up to perform tasks, providing they are given somewhere suitable to sleep.
But the organisations – who were on opposing sides during the legal battle – said “action is urgently needed” to amend current rules so sleep-in shifts are defined as working time and are paid accordingly.
While back pay is no longer an option, UNISON said it stands united with Mencap in a “properly funded care sector”.
“The demands on sleep-in workers are considerable. They’re expected to respond to the people they support at any time and at a moment’s notice during the night,” both organisations said in a letter to the Government.
“Acute underfunding lies at the heart of why social care is not fit for purpose. Central government must make more resources available to local authorities to allow much-needed reform. Improving the pay of care workers is the most sensible starting point.
“Each of us will have a friend or relative who relies on the exceptional support provided by social care staff. Or may well need help ourselves one day.”
Click here to read the letter.
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