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Supreme Court decision has implications for holiday pay

The UK Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a school trust over holiday payments to a part-time teacher.

The ruling, which went from an Employment Tribunal to the highest court in the land, could affect the way holiday pay for employees is calculated by their bosses.

The case of Harpur Trust vs Brazel started at an Employment Tribunal (ET), which ruled against the claimant, Ms Brazel.

The ruling was then overturned by an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and finally, the trust’s appeal against the EAT decision was dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Harpur Trust, an independent school operator, attempted to pay Ms Brazel holiday pay based on the time she worked, rather than the holiday leave she was actually entitled to.

Method of calculation changed

Ms Brazel was entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Before 2011, Harpur Trust calculated the teacher’s holiday pay using the Calendar Method – multiplying her average weekly pay by 5.6.

After 2011, the trust adopted the Percentage Method and that is when the dispute arose. That method calculates average hours worked at the end of term, and paid her 12.07 per cent of that figure as holiday pay, meaning she received less money.

Ms Brazel brought a claim to the ET for unlawful deductions from wages. The tribunal dismissed her claim. They found that the school had calculated her holiday pay correctly.

The claimant brought the case to an EAT – which upheld her claim that there were unlawful deductions from her holiday wages.

Not in line with policy

Harpur Trust appealed to The Supreme Court where it was unanimously dismissed, meaning that Ms Brazel had to be paid according to the Calendar Method.

The Supreme Court rejected the methods proposed by the employer. They held that a method is already set out in the Employment Rights Act for the calculation of a week’s pay.

Using other methods, such as the “percentage method”, were not in line with parliamentary policy.

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