A social care charity has told staff that it will cut their wages to below the legal minimum wage for time spent asleep while on shift.
Alternative Futures Group (AFG) made the decision after the Court of Appeal ruled in a case involving disability charity Mencap that workers on sleep-in shifts were “not always” entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
The judgment overturns a previous ruling which found that sleep-in workers should be paid the full minimum wage, whether they were asleep on shift or not.
The ruling could have potentially led to hundreds of thousands of pounds of backdated wages being handed to sleep-in workers.
The latest guidance, however, implies that workers can be paid a flat rate fee for each sleep-in shift, which results in an hourly wage lower than the legal minimum wage, currently £7.83 for those over the age of 25.
It means that a worker will lose an average of around £30 to £40 per shift.
Other organisations, including private care provider Lifeways, have announced similar changes, although only because care commissions are likely to “underfund” care following the Court of Appeal ruling.
Announcing the change in the way which its workers will be paid, AFG said: “It is highly likely that our commissioners will stop paying AFG a rate which would allow us to continue to make top up payments.
“Therefore, AFG regrettably has had to write to employees to advise them that from 1 January 2019 we will no longer pay top up payments for sleep-in hours – unless we secure sufficient funding to continue making the payments.”
It adds: “As we state in our letter to employees, we will continue to negotiate with commissioners to seek the best possible rates to protect the pay of front line workers.”
It is reported that the union Unison North West has lodged an application with the Supreme Court to ask it to overturn the Court of Appeal ruling. It has yet to be approved.