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Businesses could Face Big Bills Over Holiday Pay


North West law firm Maxwell Hodge is warning that a recent tribunal decision on holiday pay could lead to huge bills for employers. In the case of Neal v Freightliner Ltd the tribunal held that EU law requires the amount of a worker’s holiday pay to be based on their normal remuneration, which includes not only basic salary but any element of pay linked to the performance of the worker’s contractual obligations, including overtime.

Heather Grant, employment lawyer at Maxwell Hodge said: “The recent tribunal decision has thrown open a new pitfall for employers: the calculation of holiday pay in relation to overtime.  If an employee regularly does overtime it now appears that this should be factored in to the calculation of their holiday pay.”

UK law currently states that hours which aren’t guaranteed by the contract i.e. voluntary overtime, don’t need to be considered when calculating holiday pay.  As a result most holiday pay is based on the basic salary of an employee.  However, the Tribunal’s decision means that voluntary overtime now has to be considered.

A further complication though is that this ruling only applies to the four weeks of annual leave guaranteed under EU law. For the additional 1.6 weeks provided by UK law or any additional contractual holidays awarded, holiday pay can be calculated using basic salary, meaning employers face some complicated sums.

Heather warns: “This ruling could have a major impact on some industries where workers undertake lots of overtime.  There is a concern that employees can also back date their claims to as far back as 1998, so we are looking at a big financial bill here.  The case is being appealed but the decision is in line with recent decisions on the subject from the European Court of Justice, so the prospects of it being overturned are not good.

“Whilst the CBI is lobbying the Government to minimise the fallout from recent decisions on the calculation of holiday pay, our advice is that businesses should prepare for the worst and consider taking steps to minimise the financial cost of this decision.  For example companies could consider reducing the amount of overtime on offer or even the level of overtime pay, so that if the decision is upheld, the cost of including overtime in a worker’s holiday pay is less of a financial burden.”

For more information on employment law contact Maxwell Hodge on 0151 227 4545 or on