Unite accuses charities of flouting minimum wage legislation on residential shifts

Time at work on 'sleep-ins' constitutes working time and staff should be paid, claims union

Unite logo
Unite logo

Some charities are breaking the law by not paying staff the national minimum wage when they sleep over at work, according to the country's largest trade union.

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not-for-profit sector, said many members were required to work shifts that had a residential element, known as sleep-ins.

The union said that under the Working Time Regulations 1998, time spent sleeping in at work should constitute working time because the employee is available to work if needed.

But it claims that some employers are ignoring legislation and not paying staff during this time.

"Members who are working such shifts are entitled to receive the national minimum wage, currently £5.80 an hour," said Rachael Maskell, national officer for the not-for-profit sector at Unite.

"If the employer is not paying the NMW, a claim for unlawful deduction of wages can be brought."

She said one Scottish mental health charity paid an allowance for sleeping over but, if staff had to wake up and deal with residents, they were not paid and were offered time off in lieu instead.

"This is clearly unacceptable and is flouting the law," said Maskell.

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