Holiday Pay – Is There a New Way to Calculate it?

It was recently reported in the press that certain trade unions are encouraging their members to launch claims against their employers in respect of payments they may be owed as a result of the recent case of Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd. In that case, the European Court of Justice ruled that commission had to be taken into account when calculating holiday pay, rather than just basic pay.

As most UK employers only pay basic salary for holidays, the potential impact of the ECJ’s decision, and other similar cases that have been brought since, is substantial, and could include unlawful deductions claims stretching back a significant number of years.

It appears that two of the country’s biggest unions are taking steps to actively promote claims from their members. Meanwhile, employers groups are pressing the Government to introduce emergency legislation that will limit the impact of the rulings which are at odds with current UK law. Employers have warned that unless such measures are taken, the resultant legal costs could seriously threaten economic recovery.

The two main options open to employers remain unchanged. You can either:

1. Take steps to mitigate past liabilities and reduce future liabilities by introducing changes to holiday pay so that it includes all elements of normal pay (e.g. overtime and commission). The legal argument here would then be that this “breaks” the series of any unlawful deductions which an ET deems to have been made, meaning that employees have only three months from the date of the change to bring a claim (i.e. the clock would start ticking for employees). However, the success of this strategy is not guaranteed. Tribunals may determine that it was not reasonably practicable to bring a claim in time if the legal position was uncertain.

2. Wait for the outcome of the aforementioned EAT cases, and Employers’ appeals for emergency legislation to limit the impact of the rulings to date.

Whichever route you choose to take, it is advisable in the first instance to review your existing methods of calculating holiday pay and assess potential liability. It may also be worth considering establishing a fund in this regard wherever possible.

Acas Early Conciliation – What’s Involved?

Acas Early Conciliation – What’s Involved?

If an employee is going to make a claim to an employment tribunal, they must now notify Acas first.

We discussed this new process at our last Employment Law update in the spring and the changes came into force on 6 May 2014. We’ll give you an update at our next workshop on 23 October 2014, but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know.

Before an employee can take a case to tribunal, they have to talk to Acas first, who will offer them the chance to use Early Conciliation, which is an opportunity to settle workplace disputes without going to court. They will ask your employee if they want them to contact you, their employer, about settling without going to tribunal. Some employees want their day at court, so this makes them think about it, before making a final decision. They are not obliged to take part in the conciliation process, but they must complete an Early Conciliation notification form before they can take you to a tribunal.

What this means to you, as an employer, is more waiting time. Previously, after an employee left your business, if you had not heard from them in three months about any issues, you would not have heard any more. Now the process can take longer. However, early conciliation is a good opportunity for you to either settle or get early warning of a case being brought against you.

Early Conciliation can help resolve the majority of workplace disputes which may lead to an employment tribunal, including:

  • unfair dismissal claims
  • workplace discrimination
  • redundancy payments or disputes around selection procedures
  • deductions from wages or unpaid notice/holiday pay
  • rights to time off or flexible working
  • equal pay.

Since its launch in May this year, the Early Conciliation service has been well used. According to Acas, around 1000 people have contacted them about the service every week since its launch, with 98% deciding to try the service. Even though there is an initial one month period for settling a claim, Acas’ first Early Conciliation case was settled within 24 hours.

Take a look at the Acas website for more information, where you’ll find a useful flow chart which will show you the process.