UK Supreme Court Makes It Easier for Workers To Claim Historical Holiday Underpayments

October 2023
Region: Europe

A gap of three months or more between holiday pay underpayments does not necessarily break a “series of deductions” for unlawful deduction from wages purposes, meaning that workers can potentially make claims for holiday backpay in relation to a longer period.

In Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland & Anor v Agnew & Ors, the UK’s Supreme Court has given a helpful decision for workers bringing claims for historical underpayment of holiday pay. The ruling itself did not come as a big surprise, as the Court of Appeal had already expressed misgivings on the key issues in dispute. It is a significant decision for the Police Service (and other employers) in Northern Ireland – with workers potentially being able to recover sums as far back as 1998, when the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) (WTR (NI)) were first introduced. It will have less impact in Great Britain, as the statutory two-year “backstop” on such claims means that even if workers are able to show there has been a series of unlawful deductions, they can only go back two years before the date of their claim. Unfortunately, no such “backstop” exists in Northern Ireland, hence why the potential financial repercussions of this ruling are more concerning for employers there that have not been paying holiday pay correctly.