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Ruling on holiday for term-time workers

View profile for Kate Johnson
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The Supreme Court has ruled yesterday that employees that only work for part of the year, such as term-time workers, are entitled to the same holiday pay as colleagues working all year. 

The appeal in the case of Harpur Trust (Appellant) v Brazel (Respondent) [2022] concerned the calculation of annual leave and holiday pay entitlements for workers who work for varying hours during only certain weeks of the year but have a contract throughout that year. This would include zero-hour contracts.

The Respondent, Ms Brazel, was a music teacher at a school run by the Appellant, the Harpur Trust. Ms Brazel worked different hours each week and was only paid for the hours that she taught during term time. The Harpur Trust accepted that Ms Brazel was a “worker” who was entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave but they argued that a part–year worker’s leave must be pro–rated to account for weeks not worked whereas, Ms Brazel believed her holiday pay should by calculated using her average earnings over a 12-week period and not pro-rated.

The Supreme Court concluded that, “European law does not prevent a state from making a more generous provision than the “conformity principle” would produce. The amount of leave to which a part–year worker under a permanent contract is entitled is therefore not required to be, and under domestic law must not be, pro–rated to be proportional to that of a full–time worker.” 

This will have a significant impact on those who work part-year/term time only under a permanent contract and any other arrangement such as zero hours employees/workers or casual workers who have an umbrella contract arrangement in place when they are not working.   It will make holiday pay much more expensive for employers who have this type of arrangement and is most likely to affect those in the education sector. 

This has been a long-awaited decision and one of which employers will likely consider illogical. Given the extent of exposure afforded to this case, it will likely mean that part-time workers are alive to their entitlement to a full-time holiday allowance and therefore, employers will need to ensure that they deal with any issues carefully and with sensitivity. 

If you have queries about how this may affect your workplace, give me a call on 01827 317063 or  kjohnson@pickerings-solicitors.com