National minimum wage flouted by charities, union claims

A number of charities are flouting the law by not paying the national minimum wage (NMW) when staff ‘sleep over’, Unite has claimed.

The union said many members are required to work shifts which incorporate a residential element, often known as ‘sleep-ins’. During this time, if an employee is asked to work, it is supposed to constitute as working time under the Working Time Regulations.

Rachael Maskell, Unite national officer, not for profit sector, said: “Some employers continue to ignore this, despite the case law that clearly sets out the position.

“Members who are working such shifts are entitled to receive the NMW, currently £5.80 an hour. If the employer is not paying the NMW, a claim for unlawful deduction of wages can be brought.”

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

“This is clearly unacceptable and flouting the law.” She added: “We believe that a number of the more than 170,000 UK charities are copying the poor practices of this Glasgow-based mental health charity.”

Unite is also concerned about the amount of rest breaks its members are entitled to – a worker has to have 11 consecutive hours rest in every 24 hours.

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