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Employment appeal tribunal sets out further conditions where leave may be carried over

The Court of Appeal ruling in NHS v Larner set out that where a worker is unable to take their leave due to sickness they are able to carry the leave over into the next holiday year. In The Sash Window Workshop Ltd v King the EAT has ruled that a worker may carry leave forward where unable or unwilling to take the leave "because of reasons beyond his control".

Mr King was a commission-only salesman who worked for the employer from 1999 until he was dismissed in 2012.  He had taken time away from work each year but was not paid for this holiday.  He claimed that he would have taken more time off had it not been for the following factors:

he had to give notice to the employer of when he wished to take leave to ensure there were not too many salesman away at one time  

he had to work to get commission and so was reluctant to take leave periods for which he would not receive it and  

he was unaware of his entitlement to holiday pay. 

At the employment tribunal it was ruled that he was entitled to bring a claim of unpaid holiday pay for the whole period of his employment, as an unlawful deduction from wages claim on a continuing basis.  But the EAT allowed the employer’s appeal, concluding that the tribunal had not asked the essential question of whether Mr King had been prevented by circumstances beyond his control from taking paid leave it had merely assumed that he was unable to take it because it would have been refused by the employer if he had asked for it.

What sets the ruling apart is the acceptance by the EAT that the carry forward of holiday could potentially apply in non-sickness cases. The effect of NHS v Larner was to require words to be read into the Working Time Regulations overriding the "use it or lose it" presumption in sickness absence cases, with the result that unused leave cannot be carried forward "save where the worker was unable or unwilling to take it because he was on sick leave".  The Sash Window Workshop Ltd v King suggests that this could be drawn more widely to read unable or unwilling "because of reasons beyond his control".  The EAT set out that the tribunal should ask the question what would have happened had the claimant asked for leave – was the worker prevented from taking it or did they simply decide not to?

This case and the other recent ones that have created layers of interpretation to the Working Time Regulations will be analysed at Lawspeed’s forthcoming & lsquo;Knowledge is Power’ seminar taking place on Wednesday 14th January 2015.



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