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Annual leave for part-year workers

In a recent case, Harpur Trust v Brazel, the Supreme Court (“SC”) held that the annual leave entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”), being 5.6 weeks, should not be reduced pro-rata for “part-year” workers.

“Part-year” workers are those who are employed for the whole year but only work some weeks, and not others.

In this case, Ms Brazel was a music teacher who was employed for term-times only. She was paid for the hours she taught which varied from week to week. She was required to take her annual holiday during the school holidays, and her holiday pay was paid to her in three equal payments at the end of each school term. Following the Acas guidance, the school calculated Ms Brazel’s earnings at the end of each term and paid her 12.07% of that figure (the “Percentage Method”).

Ms Brazel argued that her holiday entitlement should be paid at the level of her average earnings over the 12-week period immediately before holiday was taken – if she worked 32 weeks of the year, this would equate to 17.5% of her annual earnings. Ms Brazel claimed unlawful deductions from wages for the difference

The SC held that entitlement to 5.6 weeks’ holiday still applies to workers on a permanent contract, regardless of how much work is done in that time. The SC also rejected the Percentage Method, and as such, it should no longer be relied on. The calculation exercise required by regulation 16 of the WTR is straightforward and should be followed, even if it results in part-year workers receiving a higher proportion of their annual earnings as holiday pay.