Sleep-in Appeal to the Supreme Court is good news

Now there’s the chance to clarify the law once and for all

A decision by the Supreme Court on 13 February 2019 to grant permission for an appeal against last summer’s Court of Appeal judgment affecting care workers on sleep-in shifts is extremely good news, says UNISON.  The case taken by UNISON on behalf of Clare Tomlinson-Blake was successful at both employment tribunal (2016) and employment appeal tribunal (2017).  But last July the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Royal Mencap Society. UNISON has now been given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The UNISON-backed case – taken on behalf of care worker Clare Tomlinson-Blake – argues that sleep-in shifts should count as working time and be paid at least hourly minimum wage rates.

Commenting on the news that permission to appeal has been granted, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“This is extremely good news. Last year’s judgment has meant uncertainty for employers and care staff alike. Now there’s the chance to clarify the law once and for all.

“Across the UK, thousands of care staff work sleep-in shifts looking after vulnerable adults and children, many with significant, challenging needs. As a society we should be celebrating the valuable job care workers do, not expecting them to survive on a pittance.

“Care employees are working on sleep-in shifts so this time should be counted as working time. They aren’t free to come and go as they please and, as often the sole member of staff, they’re likely to be on their feet for much of the night.

Any local authorities or care providers seeking to take advantage of the uncertainty of the current situation by cutting pay rates now are acting

irresponsibly. Sleep-in shifts should continue to be treated as working time, and paid accordingly.” 

If your employer has or is proposing to cut the rate you are paid for sleeping in please contact the Norfolk County Branch of UNSON on  01603 222385 or e-mail