Ask Sheila England

Sheila will try to answer as many of your English Social Care questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

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


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Sheila Scott OBE from 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.

Sheila will try to answer as many of your questions as possible, giving priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends.

Please note that Sheila can not offer answers to matters requiring legal advice. If your matter concerns a specific service provider, please contact the CQC.







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