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Part-time music teacher wins landmark case in the Supreme Court on holiday pay calculations for ‘part-year’ workers

Hopkins Solicitors on 20th of July 2022, saw a landmark judgment in favour of their music teacher client, Mrs Lesley Brazel, by the UK Supreme Court. This decision today follows her case being heard before an employment tribunal (in 2017), the Employment Appeal Tribunal (in 2018) and most recently the Court of Appeal (in 2019).

The UK’s highest court confirmed the rights of part-year and zero hours contract workers to the full 5.6 weeks’ statutory paid holiday provided for under the Working Time Regulations 1998. They rejected the argument from the school that the entitlement of such workers, should be reduced on a pro-rata basis.

Thanks to the judgement, it will no longer be possible for employers to argue staff who don’t work all year are only entitled to pro-rata holiday based on the hours they work. Today’s decision is also good news for anyone working irregular hours or on zero-hours contracts. From now on, all workers will be due the same legal minimum of 5.6 weeks (28 days for full-time employees), even if there are months during the year when they don’t work. 

Example: The Supreme Court judgment ensures leave must be paid at the rate of an ordinary week’s wages (or if pay varies every week, then an average of all the weeks worked in a year). Annual leave calculations are based on weeks, as a person can work a full week or part of one. The law says that someone working a full year is entitled to at least 5.6 weeks of annual leave (28 days for anyone working full-time hours in a week and this can include the eight bank holidays). The judgment means that an employee working all year, but say, for just two days a week is entitled to 11.2 days a year (2 x 5.6 weeks, so 2.24 weeks or 11.2 days).

Our client Lesley Brazel, the part time music teacher said, “After an eight year legal process I am pleased to have finally secured a basic employment right in accordance with the law and as stated in my employment contract. I would like to thank the Incorporated Society of Musicians, ARAG Insurance, and the legal teams at Hopkins Solicitors and 3PB Barristers, for their outstanding professional, legal and financial assistance throughout. I am an alumna of the Harpur Trust and I have worked for them as a visiting music teacher at Bedford Girls’ School and it’s legacy schools for 20 years, pursuing a career which I am passionate about. Emotionally it has not been an easy journey. I am indebted to my family and friends for giving me the self-confidence to see this through and for their continued encouragement and support throughout this time.”

3PB Barristers were instructed in this appeal by Hopkins Solicitors LLP to act on behalf of clarinet and saxophone teacher Mrs Lesley Brazel, who teaches at the independent Bedford Girls’ School run by the Harpur Trust. She was supported over several years of legal action by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and ARAG who provide legal expenses insurance to the ISM’s members.

Mathew Gullick QC of 3PB said today: “This judgment gives clarity on the method of calculating holiday pay for people in Mrs Brazel’s position working on permanent ‘zero-hours’ contracts and who are not required to work every week of the leave year. The judgment will be of particular interest to term-time workers at schools, colleges and universities, as well as many other types of workers whose working patterns do not fit the traditional ‘full-time’ model.”

Partner Carl Wright at Hopkins Solicitors commented: “We are obviously delighted with both the outcome of the appeal and to have been able to clarify the law for the benefit of all of those workers who, like Mrs Brazel,  work on term time only contracts.  As a consequence of this decision, term time only workers will be entitled to the same minimum annual holiday as those that are contracted to work all year round”.

You can find a copy of the full judgement on the Supreme Court website.

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