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The Harpur Trust v Brazel Ruling

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In May 2019, the court of appeal ruled that Harpur trust’s holiday calculation for Brazel, using the 12.07% method, was unlawful. Following an appeal to the supreme court, it has been published today that Harpur Trust’s appeal has been dismissed unanimously and the ruling still stands.

Brazel was a part-time music teacher, who had varying hours throughout the year. When taking holiday, her employer calculated her holiday pay at 12.07% of hours worked. Brazel disagreed with the method, as the prescribed method in legislation was to use a reference period of 12 calendar weeks to calculate the holiday due.

It should be noted that legislation has been updated since this case started, and the current prescribed reference period is 52 weeks.

The court ruled that Mrs Brazel’s method was right, and today the supreme court has backed this judgement.

HR Hub Plus Limited advises all employers to ensure they are using the 52-week reference period method to calculate holiday pay, as this is the method specified by legislation.

The decision will come as a blow to employers with workers who work for only part of each year (such as those with term-time only contracts), as it confirms that part-year workers will effectively be entitled to a windfall in holiday entitlement.

Many employers will now need to make provision for higher holiday pay for their part-year workers and face a greater risk of tribunal claims where holiday pay has previously been calculated differently.

The ruling may seem illogical and inequitable, with employers finding it difficult to explain to their full-year workers why a colleague who works only part of the year is entitled to the same holiday entitlement. It will also be difficult to explain to a part-time worker who works the same number of hours in total as a part-year worker, but spread across the whole year, why they are entitled to less holiday than the part-year worker. Employers will need to manage any friction proactively and with sensitivity.”

The Supreme Court has confirmed the finding of the Court of Appeal that part-year workers are entitled to receive more holiday pay than their colleagues who work throughout the year.

Although we typically associate part-year working with the education sector, this ruling will have a far wider impact across a number of sectors as term-time only working is becoming increasingly common.



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