06:47, June 08 273 0 theguardian.com

2017-06-08 06:47:03
ECJ rules workers can claim compensation if not given holiday pay

Workers are entitled to paid leave and can claim compensation if they are not allowed to take their holidays, according to a preliminary ruling by the European Union’s highest court.

In a decision on a case involving a UK window salesman, the advocate general of the European court of justice in Luxembourg has reinforced employees’ rights.

The long-running legal challenge involved a claim brought by a Mr King against the Sash Window Workshop Limited whose employment contract did not specify whether he was entitled to paid leave.

King was dismissed when he reached the age of 65 but brought a compensation claim against the company for holiday pay he had never received over a 13-year period that amounted to more than £27,000.

King was paid entirely on commission and his contract described him as self-employed. A UK employment tribunal subsequently found that he should have been treated as full-time worker.

In the decision issued on Thursday, the ECJ advocate general, Evgeni Tanchev, ruled that employers must provide “adequate facilities to workers” to enable them to take their paid annual leave.

He added: “A worker, like Mr King, may rely on [EU law] to secure payment in lieu of untaken leave when no facility has been made available by the employer for exercise of the right to paid annual leave ... Upon termination of the employment relationship, a worker is entitled to an allowance in lieu of paid annual leave that has not been taken up.”

Opinions given by ECJ advocate generals are normally followed by the full court. A final decision will be delivered in the coming months.

The case is one of a series that have been appealed to Luxembourg to establish whether businesses operating in the “gig economy” are depriving their employees of benefits to which they should be entitled by reclassifying them as self-employed.

A final court ruling confirming the advance opinion could impose substantial costs on many UK firms that have operated similar employment practices.