'Sleepover' pay issue for schools

By Elspeth McLean

The schools said their main defence was workers were not conducting "work" as that word was used in the Minimum Wage Act. Photo / File
The schools said their main defence was workers were not conducting "work" as that word was used in the Minimum Wage Act. Photo / File

The issue of minimum pay for "sleepover" time - this time involving workers in school boarding houses - is expected to go before the Employment Court again next year.

The workers from Iona College and Woodford House, both in Havelock North, represented by the Service and Food Workers Union, will be relying on the principles established by last year's ground-breaking Court of Appeal ruling in the long-running case of disability support worker Phillip Dickson and Idea Services Ltd.

The court upheld earlier findings by the Employment Court that such support workers on sleepovers were working and should be paid at least the adult minimum wage for every hour of their shift.

The boarding schools' case is the first one in which applicants have sought to apply the principles of the case outside the residential disability sector.

In October the parties successfully sought to have the matter removed from the Employment Relations Authority to the Employment Court for consideration.

In the parties' joint memorandum to the authority, the schools said their main defence was workers were not conducting "work" as that word was used in the Minimum Wage Act.

The memorandum said the case was "likely to have ramifications in other parts of the education sector and other "sleepover" situations outside of the residential disability sector".

The national secretary of the Service and Food Workers Union, John Ryall, said the number of workers affected in boarding schools was probably 50 to 60 nationally but hundreds would be eligible for back pay if the court ordered it.

- Otago Daily Times

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