The issue of minimum pay for ''sleepover'' time is expected
to go before the Employment Court again next year, this time
involving workers in school boarding houses.
The workers from Iona College (Hawkes Bay) and Woodford House
(Havelock North), represented by the Service and Food Workers
Union, will be relying on the principles established in the
ground-breaking 2011 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 were working on sleepovers and
should be paid at least the adult minimum wage for every hour
of their shifts.
The boarding schools' case is the first one in which
applicants have sought to apply the principles of the Idea
Services 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 stated their main defence was workers were not
conducting ''work'' as that word was used in the Minimum Wage
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
In his determination removing the matter for consideration in
the Employment Court, authority member Greg Wood accepted the
determination of the matter could affect other employers in
the education and other sectors and involved an important
question of law.
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.
However, if back pay became involved, as it was in the Idea
Services case, there could be hundreds of workers entitled to
claim some part of that.
Recently, Mr Ryall has been critical of bureaucratic delays
in back pay for workers under the Sleepover Wages
(Settlement) Act 2011, introduced in October last year to
provide the mechanism for settlement of claims related to the
Idea Services case.
Earlier this month, National Health Board national services
purchasing director Jill Lane said $21.717 million had been
spent on back pay so far and further claims of $68,638 were
expected to be paid before Christmas.
The Ministry of Health anticipated all of the $27.5 million
pool allocated for the back pay would be used, she said in a