A recent Guernsey employment tribunal case examined the nature of live-in employees who might be called upon to do occasional night duties. The case sets an interesting precedent in this area that both employers and employees should be aware of.

Carey Olsen senior associate Rachel Richardson successfully defended an 89 year old man in a constructive dismissal and minimum wage complaint brought by his live-in carer.

For the first time in Guernsey the case addressed whether or not the time spent by a live-in carer who is called upon to do occasional night duties counts when calculating their hours for the purposes of Guernsey's minimum wage regime. In simple terms, the tribunal was asked if employees should be paid for the whole night even if they do not need to carry out any duties during that period, or if they should only be paid for the time they actually work. 

The tribunal decided that only the night time hours where duties were actually carried out would be classed as 'work' for these purposes. 

Ms Richardson said: "This case serves as a reminder to employers of the need to maintain good records of employee hours, particularly for those employees whose wages are paid at or near the minimum wage fixed by the States of Guernsey. 

"Hours of work also need to be specified in employees' contracts. As well as being a legal requirement, this helps employees understand the terms under which they are employed and helps to minimise the possibility of disputes over wages.

"Small household employers should also be mindful that live-in staff are still entitled to be paid the minimum wage when working during night hours."

The States voted in their July meeting to increase the minimum wage - with effect from 1 October it will change to £6.85 per hour for adults (currently £6.65) and £6.10 for young persons.

There is no change to the 2014 rates for the maximum allowances that can be offset against wages for accommodation and food; in other words where accommodation is provided to employees, the maximum amount remains £64 per week and £92 if both accommodation and food are provided.

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