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A friend of mine works in a care home for young adults with severe learning difficulties. These people need 24-hour care.

She is paid approximately £7 per hour. She has today been placed on a rota for the following shifts:

14:15 - 21:45 followed by 21:45 - 07:15 followed by 07:15 - 14.45

She is concerned about working over 24 hours in a row (the overnight shift 21:45 to 07:15 is a shift where she is in the workplace allowed to sleep, but can be woken at any time to help the patients).

She is concerned that this will have a negative impact on her own health (if she is woken, she will get no sleep) and also on the quality of care that she can give to the patients.

Furthermore, for the overnight shift (21:45 to 07:15) she is paid a lump sum of £30 which is £3.15 an hour - she is entitled to a National Minimum Wage of £5.55 per hour.

Exactly which laws and regulations are being breached here so that she can effectively raise the issue to her boss?

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Both the minimum wage and maximum working hours are set out in legislation; the place to start would be the Government website.

But I think you (or your friend) may be expecting too much from the legislation: a shift when you are on call but not necessarily working does not normally qualify as working hours under the regulations (the website says explicitly "You may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you work in a job...where 24-hour staffing is required"). The only way to be sure what applies in the specific situation would be to consult an employment lawyer (perhaps through a union).

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