Hotel manager wins case for on-call payment at Employment Appeal Tribunal

Employers face the prospect of being prosecuted for failing to pay staff who sleep on the job, after a hotel manager won a tribunal appeal this week.

An Edinburgh employment appeal tribunal (EAT) ruled that the Learmonth Hotel was contractually obliged to pay William Anderson, guest care manager, for sleeping at the hotel overnight.

Anderson was required to be present in cases of emergency (such as fire or flood). But he was only required to work once, to deal with rowdy guests, over a nine-month period.

The hotel, part of the Jarvis hospitality group, argued that ‘on call’ time, where the risk of being required to work was insignificant, should not be regarded as working time.

But the EAT found that the time during which Anderson was contractually obliged to be present at the hotel was working time and that he was entitled to be paid for it.

Anderson was given a verbal warning after leaving the hotel for 30 minutes during a shift in November 2003. The hotel made a sleep-over requirement after Anderson’s disciplinary interview and he was warned that any absence during a sleep-over period would be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

The EAT decision follows two earlier European Court of Justice rulings in the SiMAT and Jaeger cases, involving hospital staff, which stated that time spent on-call should all be regarded as working time, even if the doctor was asleep for part of the period.

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