Landmark UNISON case confirms minimum annual leave for all workers

This includes Cleaners, Administrators, Secretaries, Caretakers, School Meal providers, Teaching Assistants and others…

UNISON has secured a victory at the Court of Appeal affecting hundreds of thousands of employees working part-time and irregular hours or patterns. (6 August 2019)

Harpur Trust v Brazel & UNISON clarifies the legal position ensuring all workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they are not given work or paid for parts of the year. In addition, this leave must be paid at the rate of a normal week’s pay, or based on the average payment for the preceding 12 weeks if pay is irregular.

UNISON intervened in this appeal, which was being defended by music teacher Mrs Lesley Brazel and brought by Harpur Trust, her term-time employer. The trust claimed she was entitled to leave and pay below the statutory minimum.

The position of leave for hourly-paid workers in the education sector, who are not paid a salary during school holidays, has been unclear due to the absence of government guidance or definitive case law on their holiday rights.

Although Mrs Brazel is not a member of UNISON, the union was concerned about the wider implications of the case and how it would affect hundreds of thousands of part-time workers and those working irregular hours. It applied to intervene in November 2018.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis commented:

‘UNISON intervened because this case was about all workers being treated fairly and would have an impact across the whole of the UK.

Staff in schools are often required under contract to be at school outside term time and , like Mrs Brazel, are required to do
additional unpaid duties beyond those periods. It’s right that they should be paid the same minimum statutory entitlement of 28 days annual leave like everyone else.’


UNISON Legal Officer Shantha David who acted for UNISON said:

‘We’re extremely pleased that the Court of Appeal considered and accepted UNISON’s argument.

The Government’s failure to provide guidance in this area has left workers in limbo. The courts have once again had to step in to stop the abuse of workers and to fix what legislation should have made clear from the outset.’

The implications of the above court case are relevant for St Helens members and should move the talks forward without further delays.

In addition, we are pleased to confirm that St Helens members are being represented by the very talented UNISON’s Legal Officer, Shantha David in respect of the ‘term-time collective grievance’.

The Council have been formally notified by Ms David that if matters are not settled, in principle, by 1 October 2019, UNISON will trigger Early Conciliation without further notice after this date.

We will advise you of progress in due course.

If you have not sent your details to us to be included in the grievance, please click the link below and complete the form at the bottom of the page.

Term-time grievance