CARE homes need to pay attention to a ruling that workers should be paid the minimum wage even when they are asleep.

That is the warning from an employment solicitor who is urging homes to review their payments of ‘sleep-in’ night workers.

The advice follows an employment appeal tribunal ruling that workers are entitled to the minimum wage of £6.31 for each hour they are required to be present.

The judgement involved the case of a senior care worker who worked a day shift and a sleeping shift from 9pm to 7am for which she was paid £25 – £2.50 an hour.

She argued that she was entitled to the minimum wage for all the time she was required at the premises. The tribunal agreed and she was awarded more than £15,000.

The tribunal found that a fundamental consideration when determining entitlement to the national minimum wage was the question of why the employer required the worker to be on the premises. In this case it was to satisfy a legal requirement that a suitable person be present ‘just in case’.

Kate Brooks, associated solicitor with the employment department of Ellis Jones solicitors, said: “This will be hard-hitting for care home owners in particular.

“We would urge them to review payment of their night workers as soon as possible and deal with any outstanding payments for national minimum wage in order to avoid costly tribunal actions.”

The minimum wage advice at says that “however someone gets paid, they still need to work out their equivalent hourly rate to see if they’re getting the minimum wage”.

It says the figure includes time spent at “at work and required to be working, or on standby near the workplace” but excluding rest breaks.

It covers ”working during a time when workers are allowed to sleep, if the employer provides a place to sleep”.