A Court of Appeal ruling in a case concerning a music teacher's holiday pay has been hailed as a landmark decision by the public service union Unison.

It said that Harpur Trust v Lesley Brazel & Unison (the ruling on which can be found at https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/1402.html) has implications for hundreds of thousands of employees.

The union intervened in this appeal, which was being defended by music teacher Mrs Lesley Brazel and brought by Harpur Trust, her term-time employer. The Trust claimed she was entitled to leave and pay below the statutory minimum.

At issue was how Mrs Brazel’s payments in respect of annual leave pursuant to the Working Time Regulations (WTR) should be calculated.

The original Employment Tribunal adopted a method more favourable to the Trust, but on appeal the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) substituted a method more favourable to the claimant.

Unison said that the Appeal Court decision has now clarified the legal position, ensuring that all workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they do not get given work or are not paid for parts of the year.

In addition, this leave must be paid at the rate of a normal week’s pay, or based on the average payment for the preceding 12 weeks if pay is irregular.

Mrs Brazel works about 10 to 15 hours a week at Bedford Girls' School during term-time and the school had calculated her holiday pay as a percentage of yearly hours worked.

The Court has decided that it should be based on her average weekly pay over a 12-week term.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Unison intervened because this case was about all workers being treated fairly and would have an impact across the whole of the UK.”

Staff in schools are often required under contract to be at school outside term time, and, like Mrs Brazel, are required to do additional unpaid duties beyond those periods, he explained.

It is therefore right, Mr Prentis argued, that they should be paid the same minimum statutory entitlement of 28 days annual leave as everyone else.

Last reviewed 23 August 2019