In 2018 Mencap, the learning disability charity with an unappealing name, took the government to court. Mencap wanted to challenge an earlier ruling on whether or not sleep shifts count as work, for the purposes of calculating the national minimum wage. They won their case and now, thanks to them, sleep shifts are no longer legally recognised as work. So if you sleep as part of your job, your boss doesn’t have to pay you for it.
Care workers employed by care provider Alternative Futures Group (AFG) have recently voted on industrial action in a Unison organised ballot over the long-running, sleep-in dispute. Ballots have now been counted, and 87.4% voted to strike on a 51.5% turnout.
Unison has also recently sent out consultative ballots to members of another large care provider, Lifeways Group. The long running exploitation and financial abuse of workers in the care sector by their employers is finally starting to get attention, and care workers are saying “enough is enough”.
The sleep-in dispute has been going on for some years and revolves around sleep-in shifts, where a care worker will stay overnight at work in a person’s home or in a care home, in case they are needed in the night. Typically, they will sleep in an office or spare room, and be available to work whenever called on.