The Employment Relations Authority has found employees engaged to be “house parents” at a boarding school and on call overnight, were working during those sleepovers.  They were entitled to be paid for the hours they had “worked” when on call at nights.

This was because they were required to sleep in the boarding house and not their usual accommodation, could not entertain guests or go out and could not drink alcohol during the time they were rostered on.  This was true whether or not there was actually any disruption to their evening while they were rostered on.

The employees however, could only claim back six years of unpaid wages from the time they filed their claims as anything before that was barred.

In addition the school had changed its process and had it hired security guards to be responsible after 10.30 pm to respond to any issues in the boarding houses.  After that time any staff responding were volunteers and were therefore not entitled to be paid.

That left a period of about 5 years which the school would have to pay the staff for those nights rostered on which will be a significant unexpected cost to pay in a lump sum.

Alan Knowsley
Employment & Education Lawyer