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No wages for sleeping on the job

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Do you have staff that work for you “on call” outside of their main hours of work?

If so you might be interested in a recent case where staff claimed they needed to be paid at least the national minimum wage for the whole time, even when they were sleeping!

The case of City of Edinburgh Council v Lauder and others UKEAT/2012/0048 was brought by sheltered housing wardens. These workers received an annual salary.  They were required to be resident in their tied houses for 36 hours a week.  They were also required to be “on call” outside their normal working hours when they were connected to an alarm system in the residents’ accommodation some nights.  They were only entitled to be paid if they were actually called out during the night, when they were entitled to time off in lieu or overtime pay.

The sheltered housing wardens claimed that they should be paid for the whole time whilst they were “on call”, even when they were sleeping.  

The bad news for employers is that in the first instance the Employment Tribunal agreed with the sheltered housing wardens that all the time that they were “on call”, even when sleeping, should be considered as working time.

The good news is that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overturned this decision. It held that the wardens were not performing salaried work at night whilst the alarm system was connected to their tied accommodation. Therefore it was not working time and they should not be paid for time when they were asleep, only the time they were actually called out.

The EAT made it clear that this ruling only applies to those workers who have normal working hours and then their “on call” requirement is additional to their normal working hours.

If you are unsure where you stand on these issues or you want to review your employment contracts, policies or procedures, please feel free to call me at any time on 0845 222 0417

Robert Tice

Head of Employment



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