Harpur Trust holiday pay case to be heard by the Supreme Court

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Posted on 25 Jun 2020

Many schools will be relieved to hear that the Supreme Court has now given permission to hear an appeal in the key holiday pay case of Harpur Trust v Brazel

The case concerned whether Ms Brazel, a music teacher employed by a school on a permanent zero hours contract, was owed any holiday pay. The Court of Appeal found in summer 2019 that, despite not working all year round, she was still entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday. As such, her employer should have calculated her yearly holiday pay by identifying a week’s pay and multiplying that figure by 5.6, rather than paying her 12.07% of her earnings.  

For the full facts of this case and the Court of Appeal’s judgment, see our blog.

A hearing date has not yet been listed, but this means that at some point the Supreme Court will scrutinise the Court of Appeal’s decision and may overturn or uphold it. Its decision will be final and cannot be appealed.

What does this mean for schools and other employers of “part-year” workers?

Employers reacted in different ways to the Court of Appeal’s judgment. Some have acted swiftly and changed the way they calculate holiday pay to be in line with the judgment and some have also paid any underpaid holiday pay to affected part-year staff, particularly in schools where staff and/or unions are pushing for change. Others have decided to wait and see if the decision is overturned on appeal before taking any action. 

Although the Court of Appeal decision currently still applies, we now know this could be changed by the Supreme Court, so employers now have more of a reason to take the “wait and see” approach. That said, as holiday pay is a notoriously complex area for HR, it is certainly worth reviewing your holiday pay practices now and assessing your potential liability for underpaid holiday pay, in case the Supreme Court agrees with the Court of Appeal.   

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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