Unions say Labour Court recommendation a major breakthrough for residential care staff

The group of unions representing residential care staff have described a Labour Court recommendation, dealing with sleepover duty  as a major breakthrough. The recommendation, issued today (Thursday 18th), calls for the recognition of sleepover duty as working time, requires all employers in the sector to comply with the Working Time act and sets the rate of pay for sleepover duty as not less than the minimum wage of €8.65 per hour. This is an increase of €3.27 on the existing hourly rate.

The rate of pay for sleepover duty applies with immediate effect. 

IMPACT national secretary for health, Louise O’Donnell, welcomed the recommendation and said that the Court had upheld what the unions had been arguing for some time, ensuring that any employers found to be in breach of working time legislation would be held to account. 

Ms O’Donnell said, “The Court’s recommendation gives full recognition to the fact that sleepover duty is working time. That recognition is a huge breakthrough for our members because it was very strongly resisted by employers. This recommendation means that, from today, nobody can be paid less than the minimum wage for sleepover duty. This is a recognition of the hard work and dedication of our members working in these services, and we will be actively engaging with employers in this sector in order to ensure its full implementation.” 

Paul Bell of Siptu said that the recommendation marked the conclusion of determined campaign by all of the trade unions involved. Mr Bell added “The next phase now will be to ensure that employers activate this recommendation with immediate effect. It’s a really significant milestone for people working in the residential care sector, it gives full recognition to the challenges involved in the unique service they deliver, where sleepover duty is such an integral part of the residential care model.” 

Willie Quigley of Unite trade union said that members had fought long and hard for this kind of breakthrough. “We expect management now to implement the terms of this recommendation. Workers have waited long enough, I am delighted to see their position vindicated today” he said.

A copy of the Labour Court’s recommendation is available here.