Court to recommend on ‘sleepovers’

The Labour Court is to make its recommendation on excessive ‘sleepover’ hours worked by staff in residential care settings within the next couple of weeks. IMPACT and other unions took the case to the Labour Court after management failed to resolve the problem – which sees staff working an average 67-hour week – under a process set up by the Haddington Road agreement over a year ago.

IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell, who presented the union case at a Labour Court hearing yesterday (Thursday) said management now accepted that ‘sleepover’ duties have to be counted as working time.

However, management continues to vigorously oppose IMPACT’s claim for an increase in the sleepover rate. Staff currently work eight-hour sleepover shifts for just €5.38 an hour – well below the statutory minimum wage of €8.65.

The case was referred to the Labour Court under the Industrial Relations Act. Pay rates for sleepovers could not have been considered by the Court if the union had referred the case under the Working Time Act, which doesn’t cover pay.

The Labour Court chairperson said he would only be considering the industrial relations aspects of the case and would not rule on retrospection or compensation.  The Court said it hopes to issue its recommendation within a fortnight.