United Kingdom Homecare Association
The professional association for homecare providers

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Supreme Court rules that Sleep-ins do not qualify for statutory National Minimum WageSupreme Court rules that Sleep-ins do not qualify for statutory National Minimum Wage

The Supreme Court confirmed today (19 March 2021) that the statutory National Minimum Wage did not apply to social care workers permitted to sleep while on duty (notes 1 and 2), an arrangement generally known as a “sleep-in” (notes 3 and 4).

The implications of this long-awaited ruling, whichever way it had been decided, are significant for both employers and members of the social care workforce.

Colin Angel, Policy Director at United Kingdom Homecare Association (note 5), said:

Today’s judgement will be hugely disappointing for those members of the social care workforce who believe that the legal minimum pay rate should be paid for sleep-in duties.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in civil cases in the United Kingdom and there is therefore no further route of appeal in these cases. Today’s judgement provides precedent for how the courts are likely to rule in similar cases. As a result, the court’s decision gives reassurance to central and local government, and employers, that substantial claims for back-payment of wages will not create the risk of large-scale closures of voluntary an independent sector care services which have traditionally made extensive use of sleep-in duties.

Angel continued:

“Now that case-law in this area has been finally decided, there remains an urgent need to address the broken system of funding the social care system, including the direct impact it has on the terms and conditions of the social care workforce. Everyone agrees that the care workforce deserves fair recognition and reward for the valuable and skilled roles they perform.

UKHCA calls on central government to provide statutory guidance to councils and the NHS on funding care work, including sleep-in duties, at a level which shows the true value that society should give to members of the social care workforce.

“In the meantime, we urge those local councils and NHS organisations who have so far taken the responsible position of funding sleep-in duties at or above the statutory minimum to continue to do so.”


Notes for editors

1. The cases are Tomlinson-Blake (appellant) vs Royal Mencap Society (respondent) and Shannon (appellant) v Rampersad and another (T/A Clifton House Residential Home) (respondents).

2. The Supreme Court’s ruling in both cases has been published on-line.

3. A “sleep-in” duty may be suitable in situations where a careworker is required to be at or near their place of work and available to provide care and support for one or more people at very short notice when needed. A sleep-in duty can be used when people are unlikely to require assistance of the worker throughout the entire span of duty.

4. Where the needs of people supported by social care require more intensive support than can be offered by a “sleep-in”, workers would normally be expected to remain awake and working (and therefore paid at or above the National Minimum Wage).

5. United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) is the UK’s membership body for homecare providers. Together we ensure that homecare is valued so that all of us can live well at home and flourish within our communities.

6. For further information please contact:
Matthew Kiernan, Press Officer, United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, Sutton Business Centre, Restmor Way, Wallington, SM6 7AH. Telephone: 020 8661 8188, Mobile: 07393 012 113
E-mail:, Website:, Twitter: @ukhca . Registered in England, No. 3083104.

Announcement posted on:

UKHCA News ID: 236629

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