Landmark case confirms statutory minimum annual leave for all workers as a result of UNISON intervention

UNISON today secured a victory at the Court of Appeal affecting hundreds of thousands of employees working part-time and irregular hours or patterns.

Harpur Trust v Brazel & UNISON clarifies the legal position ensuring all workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they do not get given work or 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.

UNISON 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.

The position of leave for hourly-paid workers in the education sector, who are not paid a salary during school holidays, has been unclear due to the absence of government guidance or definitive case law on their holiday rights.

Although Mrs Brazel is not a member of UNISON, the union was concerned about the wider implications of the case and how it would affect hundreds of thousands of part-time workers and those working on irregular hours. It applied to intervene in November 2018.

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. It’s right that they should be paid the same minimum statutory entitlement of 28 days annual leave like everyone else.”

UNISON legal officer Shantha David, who acted for UNISON, said: “We’re extremely pleased that the Court of Appeal considered and accepted UNISON’s argument.

“The government’s failure to provide guidance in this area has left workers in limbo. The courts have once again had to step in to stop the abuse of workers and to fix what legislation should have made clear from the outset.”

A link to the judgment will be available here.