Due to an employment tribunal case held earlier this year (the ‘Brazel’ case), there is currently some doubt over the correct way to calculate holiday pay for term-time only workers. All workers are entitled to the statutory minimum of annual leave (20 days excluding bank holidays). At West Sussex County Council, leave is above statutory minimum, starting at 23 days and rising to a maximum possible of 29 days. The Brazel case would tend to have an impact on workers who were at or near the statutory minimum of holiday entitlement.
In East Sussex and Brighton & Hove councils (both covered by the same joint HR department) a settlement has been agreed with term-time only workers – most of whom are support staff working in schools. This is because it was also the case that those authorities calculated term-time only pay in a particular way, which was not the same as how WSCC do it. The East Sussex and Brighton settlements led to back-pay being agreed for staff, as well as slightly higher pay being agreed going forwards.
The UNISON West Sussex branch has been trying to engage with WSCC for some time to establish whether the same situation could apply to the West Sussex term-time only staff cohort. This has been made more difficult by the current situation at West Sussex. According to the Local Government Chronicle, the Chief Executive has been suspended, and the Director of HR resigned around the same time and has not been seen at work since. We have however now managed to meet with HR to start to discuss the matter. We have further meetings planned with HR for 9 and 16 December. After this we should be in a position to understand the council’s position better. The branch will however need more time after this to consult with the national UNISON legal team to establish the correct position.
Members should also note that the Brazel case is being appealed in the Supreme Court by the school employer which lost the case originally, so there is some uncertainty about the outcome.
We will keep members up-to-date. The January 2020 edition of Branch Lines, due to be published on 10 January, will include an article on the latest position. We will of course update you through the website before then if we need to. You can be assured that the West Sussex branch is on the case to ensure that your pay and holiday entitlement is calculated correctly.