Care providers in the learning disability sector enable vulnerable disabled adults with complex needs to live independent lives in the community. People supported by the sector often require 24 hour care which is provided by members of staff sleeping on site to provide care should it be needed during the night. These shifts are known as ‘sleep-ins’.
Traditionally, care workers in the sector have been paid a flat nightly rate for the sleep-in with the normal hourly rate paid for the time awake to deliver care – In effect sleep in shift were afforded separate legal status, following the introduction of the National Minimum Wage.
However, in response to a number of tribunal judgements in 2015, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills changed its guidance on ‘sleep-in’ shifts determining that a worker who was asleep ‘could be deemed to be ‘working’’. Since then working practice has been variable due to confusion over the guidance and a lack of compliance monitoring by HMRC, the CQC and more critically local authorities, who commission and pay for delivery of the care packages
The increased cost in paying the NMW for ‘sleep-in’ shifts is not only prohibitive for the industry going forward, but HMRC insist employees receive backdated payments for the last six years at an estimated cost of £400 million and will undoubtedly have a catastrophic impact on the care sector including disabled people using council funded Direct Payments/Personal Budgets to commission their own care.
Following months of lobbying HMRC have suspended enforcement activity on employers whilst a solution to the sleep-in issues was sought. Yet despite the launch of a Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) back in November 2017, the extent of the liability faced is still unknown causing continued uncertainty in the sector. Heidi therefore called on the Prime Minister to meet with her and concerned colleagues to end the current impasse and find a solution to the problem. To listen to the full question and response follow the link here