The Supreme Court Set To Deliver Harpur Trust v Brazel Term-Time Holiday Ruling
The Supreme Court will this week (20 July) hand down its judgment in a case which, according the employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, could have significant financial repercussions for thousands of employers with people working part of the year on permanent contracts.
The Harpur Trust v Brazel focuses on the issue of whether a worker’s right to paid annual leave is accumulated according to their working pattern and/or is pro-rated.
The Harpur Trust employed Ms Brazel on a zero hours contract to teach music. Her contract provided her with 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, which had to be taken outside normal school holidays.
The Trust argued however that it could pro-rate her holiday entitlement and pay to reflect the fact that she worked fewer weeks per year than comparable full time staff.
Ms Brazel brought proceedings arguing that this was in breach of the Working Time Regulations and Part-time workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations.
She was initially unsuccessful, but succeeded on appeal. The case then moved to the Court of Appeal which concluded that workers engaged on permanent part-year contracts must receive at least 5.6 weeks holiday. This could not be pro-rated because the Working Time Regulations 1998 don't include a pro-rata principle in these circumstances.
The employer appealed to the Supreme Court and the case was heard last November.
Expert Opinion“The outcome of this case will impact many employers who engage staff on term-time only contracts, particularly in the education sector. Many have pro-rated their holiday entitlement to reflect the number of weeks they work each year, usually 39, compared to 46.5 weeks for a full-time employee.
“The unions have been actively pursuing holiday claims on behalf of term-time only staff. In 2018, Unison helped 5,000 term-time staff employed by Greenwich Council receive compensation for unpaid holiday amounting to almost £4m. Unison also intervened in this case because the principles involved affect hundreds of thousands of other workers.”
Jo Moseley - Senior Associate Solicitor