Supreme Court hears minimum wage sleep-in case (update)

In 2018, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of a 2015 Employment Tribunal that found former Mencap care worker Claire Tomlinson-Blake was entitled to receive the national minimum wage for each hour of sleep-in shifts completed, plus six years of back payments.

Charities had previously typically paid sleep-ins at a flat rate of between £35 and £45, plus an hourly rate for any time spent providing care rather than being asleep.

An Appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision was lodged in August 2018 by UNISON,with the Supreme Court giving the go ahead in February 2019 for the case to return to court.

Mencap has estimated that if the rules were changed to allow back pay for affected workers, it could cost the social care sector £400m and £20m for Mencap specifically.

The two day hearing has now been completed, although it is not yet known when the Supreme Court will publish its decision on the case, the Branch expects we may receive the findings around July 2020.

Watch this space!

Sleep-ins, impossible rotas, zero hours contracts, unpaid travel time, just fifteen minutes to care.

When you’ve got a problem, we’re right there to help you.

Frequently raised questions:

Question: Am I entitled to paid travel time?

The answer is YES! All homecare workers are entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage or national living wage for the work that they do. This includes care workers on zero hour contracts. This means that time spent caring for clients, travelling to appointments and waiting to start the appointment should be included in the pay calculation. At the very least the work done must average out as at least the national minimum wage or national living wage.

If it does not, then the pay is unlawful and you can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal or raise a complaint with HM Revenue &
Customs via ACAS. If you think that you are not receiving the correct pay you can contact us.

Question: Can I get help with the cleaning of my uniform?

Did you know that following an agreement between UNISON and the Inland Revenue, you may be able to claim tax relief for cleaning your uniform? You can get tax relief for the cost of laundering your uniform, but only where you have to meet the costs out of your own pocket. You cannot claim if your employer takes care of the cleaning or provides cleaning tokens or free cleaning facilities for you to use. Nor can you claim uniform laundry costs if you do not have to wear a uniform to do your job. There is no tax relief for the costs of cleaning ordinary clothes. Claim online at

Question: Am I entitled to a Contract of Employment?

Employees are legally entitled to a Contract – a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment – within two calendar months of starting work. Your contract should include details of things like pay, holidays and working hours.

Question: Do I have a right to a rest break?

Workers over 18 are entitled to 3 types of break – rest breaks at work, daily rest and weekly rest.

Rest breaks at work – You have the right to a 20-minute rest break during your working day, if you work more than 6 hours a day. This could be a tea or lunch break. The break doesn’t have to be paid, it depends on your Employment Contract.

Daily rest – You have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, e.g. if you finish work at 8pm, you shouldn’t be asked to start work again until 7am the next day.

Weekly rest – Workers have the right to either:

    • an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week
    • an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work each fortnight

If you think that you are not getting the rest breaks you need, you can contact the Branch Office for advice.

Question: Do I have a legal right to join a union?

All workers and employees have a legal right to join a trade union if they wish to do so.  It is unlawful for an employer to discipline or sack a person because they talk to or join a trade union.  Being a member of a trade union gives workers greater protection and access to a wide range of services and benefits.