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Following a ruling by the Court of Appeal last month, employers are no longer obliged to provide back pay to care workers for sleeping shifts they have carried out over the past six years.

So what has happened, and what does it all mean?

This recent development follows a previous ruling that was made last year that stated care workers should be paid the national minimum wage for every hour of a sleep-in shift they carry out for clients - rather than receive a flat rate fee - and should receive back pay for those shifts carried out over the past six years.

Employers were invited to join the social care compliance scheme, which gave them until December 2018 to calculate their liability going back the six years. They would then be given until March 2019 to pay it. However, care providers - including Mencap - argued this was unaffordable and could force smaller employers out of business.

Where did it all start?

Previously employees were paid a flat rate of around £35 to £40 a night to sleep either at a care home or their client’s home, and were paid more should their client wake during the night.

However, the argument was made that people could not get up and go out, therefore they are working for a full sleeping shift, leading to HM Revenue and Customs’ decision that care workers should at least be paid the minimum wage for every hour of their shift overnight – amounting to around £60.

Employers were facing the task of funding around £400 million in back pay to care workers to cover the past six years.

What happens now?

Following the recent ruling in the Court of Appeal, care providers are no longer liable for back pay, however most employers have now chosen to pay care workers the minimum wage for each hour of their sleep shifts.

The union Unison is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court, believing that the recent decision by the Court of Appeal is a “mistake”.