Part-time workers across the arts should be entitled to a minimum amount of annual leave and holiday pay, according to a Court of Appeal ruling that could affect hundreds of thousands of employees in the UK.
The decision follows what is being described as a landmark case, in which part-time music teacher Lesley Brazel won an appeal against her employer over the amount of paid annual leave she was due.
The ruling has been hailed as a victory for employees working in part-time roles or irregular hours, particularly specialist arts teachers who are paid hourly.
Trade union Unison, which intervened in the case, said the ruling clarifies that “all workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they do not get given work or paid for parts of the year”.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians provided legal advice to Brazel and said the decision was of “tremendous importance” to musicians working in education-related roles.
However, it said the ruling would also have ramifications for other arts professionals working part-time, and in any case where they are required to take on additional duties beyond their contracted hours.
After initially losing an employment tribunal, Brazel won the claim against her employer, the Harper Trust, which had allocated her less than the statutory minimum paid annual leave, based on her yearly hours worked.
She works 10 to 15 hours per week at Bedford Girls’ School, run by the trust, and is not paid a salary during school holidays.
The new ruling says that when an individual’s pay varies across the year, paid holiday should be based on an average of the last 12 weeks worked rather than a pro-rata calculation.
ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts said: “This case is of tremendous importance to all music teachers working in a school setting and to hundreds of thousands of workers. It also shows the incredible determination of Mrs Brazel and commitment of the ISM supporting our members across many years.”
Unison said it had intervened in the case last year because of its wider implications for part-time workers.
Unison’s legal officer Shantha David said: “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.”