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Rising Cost of On-call Working

Qdos Consulting In Association with Contractors UnlimitedOver recent years there has been a growing body of employment law cases that have strengthened the employee's position in relation to payment for on call and sleep over work.

A recent decision of the Scottish Employment Appeal Tribunal has further confirmed that employees who are required to sleep over in the work premises are working throughout the time of their attendance at work. This applies even if they are there for emergency purposes only and even where they are allowed to sleep in.

In this case the employee, who only lived a short distance from the hotel in which he worked, was required to be at the premises in case of emergency and that for all other times he could sleep in. Emergencies were a rare occurrence within the hotel and so he was hardly ever required to perform any duties.

The decision follows the findings in favour of hospital staff by the European Court of Justice and would further confirm that Companies face additional costs in dealing with on call and sleep over arrangements.

These cases usually revolve around two issues, the question of compensatory rest breaks and the need to ensure that the employees receive the national minimum wage if these hours are taken into account.

Where an employer requires the employee to be present at the work premises and potentially be available for work, even if the employee is allowed to sleep then those hours will be working hours. Employers need to ensure that rest periods are given and that any payment for those hours is such that there is no breach of the national minimum wage requirements.

Employers should ensure that they take professional advice on their contractual terms in order that they comply with these requirements.

Alan Hunt - Qdos Consulting Ltd

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Posted 08/08/06

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