Case law: Tribunal clarifies when workers should receive minimum wage for time spent asleep
Employers whose workers are required to travel between assignments and spend time at a location overnight (during which time they may sleep) should make sure they know whether they are required to pay for travelling and sleeping time under minimum wage rules.
This update was published in Legal Alert - January 2014
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An employee of a home care agency travelled between home care appointments during the day by bus, spent 20 minutes in each home, and rarely returned home between appointments. She was paid per number of visits, had no set hours (although she worked for an average of 50 hours per week) and was not paid for travel time.
She was also paid an additional fixed fee of £40 per week for sleeping over for eight hours in a house lived in by three disabled adults, when required. As she invariably slept over for at least two nights per week, she was being paid less than the minimum wage for this.
She resigned, and was given significantly less work during her month's notice period. She claimed the minimum wage for her sleepovers and payment for travel time.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled it was irrelevant to her claim for sleepovers that she did not actually have to attend to any of those living in the house while she was there. The job was just being there.
The EAT also found that work she did in the day was assignment work meaning she was entitled to be paid for travelling time. According to the EAT "…where a person's presence at a place is part of their work the hours spent there irrespective of the level of activity are classed as time work. Difficult cases may arise where a worker is obliged to be present at a particular place. That presence may amount to their working. Conversely it may not." In this case it did.
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