The Supreme Court has upheld a 2018 Court of Appeal decision that social care workers who sleep during night shifts are entitled to the national minimum wage only when they are awake and supporting people who require overnight support services.

The court said care workers should only be paid the national minimum wage hourly rate on sleep-in shifts when they were awake for the purposes of working.

The ruling provides welcome clarity to care providers across the country who could have been responsible for back-pay claims of up to £400 million if the Supreme Court had ruled differently. This would have been devastating for many providers, forcing insolvencies and closures across the country and leaving many people without adequate care.

However, the ruling also raises further questions about pay reform for care workers who provide overnight support, which Unison described as 'out of date and unfair'.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) has called on the Government to establish a fair rate of pay for care workers who provide overnight support, saying:

'The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent to which social care is a vital part of a civilised society. We need to value those who care for disabled people, including when they are available at night, and that includes a fair rate of pay.

'This decision, coming as care workers remain on the frontline of the pandemic, illustrates that they deserve fair reward for work that supports disabled people to be more independent.'

Now the care sector has some clarity on this issue, there is an opportunity to introduce a system that enables us to place proper value on the work of social care professionals, and on the vital care and support they provide to disabled people.

If you receive a direct payment and have concerns about how this might affect you, please contact us on 01903 219482 to speak to a member of our Advice Team.