Tribunal rules on holiday entitlement for part-time staff

The law relating to statutory holiday pay and part-time staff was clarified recently, after an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that a part-time music teacher had been unfairly discriminated against.

The case was brought before the Tribunal, following a dispute between Mrs L Brazel and education support charity, the Harpur Trust.

Mrs Brazel, who had been employed by the Trust since 2002, was working part-time on a zero-hours contract at Bedford Girls School.

The school informed Mrs Brazel that it would be revising its method for paying ‘visiting music teachers’, based on the number of lessons provided and the hours worked each month, which “might result in a fluctuating monthly payment depending on [the] number [of] the lessons taught in a particular month”.

As a result, it was proposed that accrued holiday payments would be made in those quieter months,” the judgment stated.

According to Mrs Brazel’s contract she was allowed 5.6 weeks of holiday pay, in line with her statutory entitlement, but The Harpur Trust disagreed, arguing that, as she worked fewer weeks than a ‘standard’ 46.6 week working year, her holiday leave should be pro-rated.

Initially, a tribunal ruled that there had been no unlawful deduction of wages as a result of paying pro-rated annual leave.

However, Mrs Brazel successfully appealed this decision, citing the Working Time Directive and the Part-time Workers (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2000.

The EAT found that: “The Part-time Workers Regulations 2000 have as their overriding principle the concept that part-time workers are not to be treated less favourably than full-time workers.”

Presiding judge, Martyn Barklem commented that: “There is no principle to the opposite effect” and therefore the statute could not be amended “…the provisions of which are unambiguous”.

He also acknowledged that: “the subject matter of this appeal will potentially affect many visiting music teachers and, similarly, many schools that employ them. It is, therefore, a point of some importance.”

Ensuring that you are compliant with complex employment law regulations rules can be a distraction from the day to day running of your school and can be costly if you get it wrong.

At Haslers, our HR Consultancy offers full support, assisting you with the management of your staff, whilst ensuring you ensure you stay up-to-date with new legislation and best practice.

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