Should You Be Paid To Sleep?

There has been much in the news recently of global companies paying employees to live, and therefore sleep, at their work premises. There has been long standing debates in the Employment Appeal Tribunal as to when an employer can avoid paying an employee who is permitted to sleep at the work premises. Usually, this involves managers at care homes or security guards.

There is vast case law on this subject. There are two major cases involving doctors. In both cases, the doctors were permitted to sleep and carry out leisure activities but had to remain on the work premises. The doctors were not allowed to be at a place of their choosing and had to be available for work at all times. The Court held that this is working time and the doctors should be paid.

However, a contradiction of this is the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 which allows an employer to avoid paying an employee if there home is at the work premises or the work premises has suitable facilities for sleeping.

The deciding factor appears to be the nature of the work that the employee has to carry out. For example, in one case, a residential warden in a sheltered housing development were required to remain onsite but not to carry out their main duties. The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that the wardens were not carrying out their main job and were merely on call, and therefore not working.

It is a burden if an employee is required to be at the work premises at all times, even if the employee lives there. The employee is under the control of the employer. There is no freedom for the employee to take a leisurely stroll into town or go on days out with family and friends. Due to this, the employee should be compensated for the requirement of having to staff at the work premises.