Holiday entitlement when working hours increase

In the case of Greenfield v The Care Bureau Ltd, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) considered how the calculation of annual leave should be implemented when a worker increases the number of hours worked for their employer.

By way of background Ms Greenfield was employed by Care Bureau Ltd as a care worker between June 2009 and May 2013. Her leave year started on the 15th of June each year and her contract stated that her hours and pay would vary from week to week. In July 2012 she took 7 days’ paid leave. In the 12 weeks immediately prior to her holiday, Ms Greenfield worked 1 day per week and therefore, the leave taken at this time amounted to seven weeks’ leave, which exceeded her 5.6 weeks’ entitlement.

From August 2012 Ms Greenfield’s hours of work increased to 12 days on and 2 days off. In November 2012, Ms Greenfield requested a further week’s leave. Her employer refused and stated she had exhausted her holiday entitlement in July 2012. Ms Greenfield brought a claim in the employment tribunal for pay in lieu of leave not taken and the matter progressed to the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ made it clear that the right to paid annual leave must not be interpreted restrictively and ruled that when there is an increase to the number of hours worked, the statutory annual leave that had previously been accrued did not need to be retrospectively recalculated. Moving forward, the worker’s leave entitlement should be recalculated in line with thee new working-pattern. Any leave already taken in excess of the entitlement that applied under the previous working pattern should be deducted from the newly accumulated rights during the period where the worker has increased their hours.

The decision is not surprising when considering the ECJ’s earlier ruling in the case of Zentralbetriebsrat der Landeskrankenhäuser Tirols v Land Tirol [2010], where a worker who, part way through a leave year, changed from full-time work to part-time work, was deemed not to have lost his entitlement to the amount of leave he had already accrued.

Calculations of, and entitlement to holiday pay can often be complex issues. If you or your business need further advice or guidance on this topic then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 672 1425