Am I entitled to be paid for the time I am required to spend on standby, waiting to see if I am to be called on to work?

As a minimum, you must be paid the National Minimum Wage for all the time you are required to spend at or near your workplace, waiting to see whether you are going to be called on to work. In particular, it is against the law for your employer to ask you to clock off during quiet times but remain on the premises.

There is no statutory obligation on your employer to pay standby payments for the time spent waiting at home on call.

Your employment contract may contain better than the minimum rights to pay when on standby.

In a workplace where a union is recognised, there is likely to be a collective agreement in place with arrangements for contractual standby payments, better than the statutory minimum.

When your employer provides sleeping accommodation for you to use at or near work, the time when you are allowed to use those facilities is only counted for the National Minimum Wage when you are awake for the purpose of working (for example when you are awake and required to be on standby, in case you are needed).

If, by contrast, you are required to remain in your employer’s sleeping accommodation (even though you may be sleeping), you will be entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for the whole night shift because you are working. A good example would be a night watchman or a night warden in a care home.

Unions have built up a lot of expertise campaigning for workers to be paid the National Minimum Wage for all the hours they spend working, in particular in sectors especially prone to abuse, such as domiciliary and residential care. Unions also enforce these rights in the employment tribunal to achieve change for groups of workers. If you are interested in taking collective action to improve working conditions and practices where you work, use our Union Finder tool to find the union best suited to you.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.