UNISON Northern Ireland


A large number of claims were lodged several years ago with the Industrial Tribunal on behalf of UNISON members by our solicitors, Thompsons’ NI, against 5 Health Trusts on rates of pay for staff undertaking sleep-in shifts in residential facilities.

The common feature with the case lodged with the Tribunal is that affected employees, as part of their employment, are required to perform a “sleep-in” at a Trust facility. The employee is required to be at the employer’s premises for around 24 hours. The employee is permitted to sleep or rest when this is possible. They are liable to be called upon to attend to the needs of the establishment and residents.

Employees are paid at their contractual pay rate for hours worked. The sleep-in shift does not attract the contractual pay rate (including overtime pay rates), but a flat sum of just over £30. If a worker is called upon in the course of the sleep-in, this work is paid at the standard rate.

The claims to Tribunal focused on the following:

a. The failure to pay staff at a rate that accords with the National Minimum Wage for sleep-ins;

b. The failure to provide “compensatory rest” in accordance with the Working Time Regulations

c. The failure to pay wages for the sleep-in period at the standard (daytime) rate as required by the terms and conditions of employment and;

d. The failure to pay holiday that accords with “normal” pay.

The Industrial Tribunal held a hearing late last year on the lead case and have now provided their judgement. The Tribunal, disappointingly, dismissed all the claims, mentioned above, made on behalf of the employees affected.

UNISON is currently considering the Tribunal’s judgement.

A further update will be provided in due course.


— Joe McCusker, UNISON Regional Organiser