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Today’s court ruling backs worker’s claim for 13 years of holiday pay

29 November 2017

Regular readers of our employment law newsletter ‘dispatches’ may remember the case of Mr King v The Sash Window Workshop – we reported in October this year on the opinion of the Advocate General in the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Mr King worked as a commission-based salesman for the sash window firm on a self-employed basis but after being dismissed contested that he was in fact a worker and was therefore entitled to workers’ rights. A tribunal agreed and he consequently went on to claim he was entitled to holiday pay for untaken leave during his 13 years’ with the company. The company maintained that at no point was he prevented from taking any time off for holiday or otherwise as there was no requirement for him (as a self-employed individual) to request it or for the company to agree it.

After somewhat grappling with the issue, the UK courts asked the ECJ to decide whether EU law allowed him to claim payment for the untaken holiday for the entire length of his employment. In a much-anticipated judgement, the ECJ has today ruled (following the Advocate General’s opinion we previously reported) that he was entitled to his untaken leave for the entire 13 year period.  The court stated that ‘an employer that does not allow a worker to exercise his right to paid annual leave must bear the consequence’.

This is clearly a landmark decision, but it is also significant because the court decided there was no time limit for his claim, which is likely to increase the possibility of future similar claims being made especially given the ongoing scrutiny of the employment status of many individuals working in the gig economy.

The case will now return to the Court of Appeal, and we await further ruling.

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Matthew Clayton MA LLM (Cantab), CIPP/E
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