Last reviewed 22 April 2021

We reported recently on the Supreme Court decision regarding the payment of sleep-in shifts for support workers (see Court rules that sleep-in shifts do not qualify for National Minimum Wage).

Now UNISON and Mencap have written jointly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for immediate reform of minimum wage laws affecting thousands of care workers.

The letter calls for urgent action to amend current rules so sleep-in shifts — where staff have to stay overnight away from home — are defined as working time and paid properly.

UNISON — the biggest union involved social care — and learning disability charity Mencap, which is one of the UK's largest providers of social care services, were on opposing sides during the long-running case which concluded in the Supreme Court.

Mencap contested the case due to the huge back pay bill facing the care sector, and UNISON supported the worker involved because it believes care staff should be paid for all the hours they are at work.

They have come together to tell the Prime Minister that they are “united in the same vision” of a “properly funded care sector”.

They have asked him to require the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to investigate the issue of sleep-in pay and reassess the status of shifts so “the entirety of these” are treated as working time.

Mencap and UNISON remind the Prime Minister in the letter that “care workers are already among the lowest paid in the country” and some earn less per hour than the average retail assistant.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Mencap chief executive Edel Harris said: “Ultimately, the Government’s reforms must include properly funding social care and improving pay to create a world-class social care system we can be proud of”.