Care providers have been given temporary respite by the government after it was announced that some fines for underpayment of national minimum wage would be waived and other enforcement action temporarily suspended. The measures only relate to underpayment of NMW arising from the way in which “sleep-in” shifts are paid.
This is an area which has plagued the care sector in recent years. Many care providers pay a premium for sleep-in shifts rather than paying workers their normal hourly rate for the shift and have faced claims from workers who allege that these hours should be taken into account when calculating whether at least the NMW has been paid.
The government has recognised the uniquely difficult position care providers find themselves in, and has announced that any NMW arrears as a result of “sleep-in” care incurred prior to 26th July 2017 will not attract the usual fines for NMW non-compliance. This means that, while employers may still face claims from employees and will be required to re-pay any arrears, they will not also face the usual 200% enforcement fine for non-compliance.
In addition, the government has announced that it will temporarily suspend enforcement activity from HMRC in respect of “sleep-in” care.