We are currently in the midst of a very popular time to take annual leave from work, but the law regulating and dictating what someone should be paid whilst on holiday from work is far from clear.
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (“the Regulations”) state that all workers have the right to 5.6 weeks paid leave each year. This equates to 28 days for a full time worker, including all public and bank holidays of which there are 8 each year. However, some workers are entitled, possibly under a contract of employment, to annual leave in excess of the statutory minimum.
Under the Regulations workers are entitled to be paid during statutory annual leave at a rate of a week’s pay for each week of leave. The question then is what is a “week’s pay”? How it is calculated depends on a number of factors and in particular distinction is made between a worker with normal working hours and those with no normal working hours. However, recent cases in the European Court of Justice that have been applied in the Employment Appeal Tribunal have stated that a worker needs to receive their “normal remuneration” during periods of statutory annual leave. This means that the way in which we calculate a week’s pay under the Employment Rights Act 1996 in the UK is incompatible with The Working Time Directive.
Article 7 of the Working Time Directive states that workers must have the right to “paid annual leave” but dos not state how this should be calculated. In the case of Williams and others v British Airways Plc  the European Court of Justice held that a worker is not just entitled to basic pay but any remuneration that is “intrinsically linked to the performance of the tasks which the worker is required to carry out under his contract of employment and in respect of which a monetary amount, included in the calculation of his total remuneration, is provided”. Also those that relate to the “personal and professional status” of the worker. This would include payments relating to a worker’s seniority, length of service and professional qualifications.
The idea is that you should not be worse off financially as a result of exercising your statutory right to take holiday. With this in mind contractual commission and bonuses should be taken into account when calculating a week’s pay for the purpose of holiday pay. Otherwise you could be deterred from taking time off work due to the financial disadvantage you would be in. This was confirmed in the case of Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd and others .
So, if your pay packet is lighter because you have taken some holiday this month or last it is possible that your employer has not correctly calculated your holiday pay. You may have a claim for the difference in pay. If you wanted to consider pursuing a claim seek our advice quickly as there are strict time scales for bringing such claims.
Employment law specialist solicitor