Appeal court rules flat rate for sleep-in care workers is fair

The court of appeal has overturned a ruling on payments for care workers who carry out “sleep-in” shifts for clients with learning disabilities, potentially averting a crisis that employers claim would have jeopardised the care of vulnerable people.

A court ruled last year that care workers should be paid the national minimum wage (NMW) for every hour of a sleep-in shift, rather than a flat rate – in effect doubling the cost of a shift to £60. It said providers should be liable for six years of back-pay to carers.

On Friday, the court reversed the back-pay decision and ruled flat-rate payments were fair, meaning sleep-in shift care workers could receive the full rate only for those hours during which they were awake and assisting the client.

Employers welcomed the ruling, saying the back-pay liability, collectively estimated at about £400m, would have bankrupted many providers. But they called on the government to issue new guidance on how workers are to be paid for sleep-in shifts, and properly fund the costs.

Local authorities – which fund the cost of sleep-in shifts through their adult social care budgets – were relieved by the ruling, though they said clarity was needed over future costs. Councils in England face an estimated £2bn funding gap in adult social care. More

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