Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

13th March 2015

Standby without pay

Can a company make you be on standby without pay when you have a 36 hour contract and you have done your 36 hours that week as you cannot make plans with your days off?

Dear Christine,

We are lucky here at QCS that we have professionals we are able to refer to when a question requires an answer from an expert in another field so I referred your question to Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions and this is his response:

It partly depends what is written in to your contract. If your contract requires some standby time the employer can, in a sense, “make” you be on standby; see below.

But there may be National Minimum Wage (NMW) implications. In particular being on standby near your workplace (and hence restricted about what you can do) counts as working time. Put simply, the NMW is calculated by taking your pay for the pay period (e.g. one week) and dividing it by the number of hours of working time. If this comes below the NMW then the contract is, essentially, irrelevant; your employer is in breach of the Act and you can report them.

It may be that standby time is not counted as working time if, for example, you are simply required to be available on the telephone or to respond to emails. You could then get on with your life.

“Make” is an interesting choice of word. If you are contracted to be on standby, and don’t respond, your employer might discipline, or in some circumstances, dismiss you.

Hopefully this information helps.

Best wishes,

Sheila Scott

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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