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European window case sheds light on annual leave

4th Dec, 2017 / Legal & Law Firm, News

A new Judgment of the European Court carries a stark warning for those engaging workers and refusing them any paid annual leave.

A new Judgment of the European Court carries a stark warning for those engaging workers and refusing them any paid annual leave.  The case of King v The Sash Window Workshop holds, that under European law workers can claim for many years of pay in lieu of holiday where the employing organisation refused to allow paid leave.  This may have significant ramifications for those engaging contractors and other workers personally (where paid leave is not agreed). It may also have further implications for other ongoing holiday pay disputes faced by employers (for example, about the amount of holiday pay staff should receive).

The facts

Mr King was a salesman engaged from June 1999 until October 2012 on a self-employed commission-only contract. When he took annual leave it was unpaid and that meant he didn’t take that much leave. When his engagement ended, he claimed for holiday pay, including over 24 weeks of pay in lieu of (arguably legally) accrued leave which he had never taken.  The European Court was asked to decide: if he had to take the leave in the year in order to be paid for it or to claim the pay; and whether national law could prevent the carry over and accumulation of such leave/pay. In summary, could Mr King claim for payment for holiday which he had never asked for or taken, simply because his employer had said he would not be paid for it?

This Judgment holds that European law precludes a worker from being obliged to take the annual leave if it has not been established that he will be paid for it. So where a worker is refused pay for leave by their employer (but legally they are actually entitled to it), the UK working time rules which require a worker to ‘use it or lose it’ within the year, are not compatible with EU law… READ MORE

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