Time limits for holiday entitlement claims

Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 2 February 2018
Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors
Issues covered:

Q: Accepting there is a huge difference in the amount of fine potentially payable in Northern Ireland to GB, surely any claims to a tribunal would have to be made within the three-month time limit from the last missed holiday entitlement?

Seamus: We’ll just give it a bit of background in relation to this. First of all, listeners in Northern Ireland might be aware that in England and Wales, there’s been a reduction so that you can only bring the claim for two years. There’s a limit there of two years in relation to it. That’s just an amendment under the employment rights, 1996, the act.

Then the case is with the Bear (Scotland) and British Airways Cases, employment tribunal cases and things like that, where the liability was so massive because there didn’t seem to be any limit on it, but that’s been brought in. That’s not the scenario in Northern Ireland. We’re still left with there’s no two-year limit there or anything like that. We’re still left that we can bring the claims here in Northern Ireland.

Scott: So, listen for unlawful deductions. ‘I haven’t had my holiday pay. You haven’t paid it for the last six years. I want six years’ worth of money.’

Seamus: Yes.

Scott: That’s perfectly acceptable, subject, perhaps, to this three-month limit because you only have three months to take a claim.

Seamus: You have only three months to bring the claim. That’s the principle. That’s where you’re at. I suppose you need to be careful in terms of where there’s an unlawful deduction of wages that is happening every month in the salary and you need to be careful in terms of your timeframes in terms of that as well.

The other thing that strikes me about that question is that if it’s an unlawful deduction of wages claim, it can also be a breach of contract claim that an employee could seek to bring in the court system. And if it’s a breach of contract claim, they would have six years in order to bring the claim in any event. So, I wouldn’t necessarily hedge all my bets in saying we’re all right because there’s a three-month time limit there for it.

Scott: There’s another issue which is the Sash Windows case that went to the European Court very recently.

Seamus: That’s right.

Scott: They said that where you incorrectly register an employee . . . so, you call them self-employed where they’re not a self-employed contractor, they’re really a worker or employee, then there is no limit because you’ve denied them a fundamental right to get the four weeks’ holiday. It’s only the four weeks’ holiday we’re really talking about. It’s the working time directive holidays.

Seamus: Exactly. But still, there could be a substantial liability in there for anyone. 

Related Articles:

FAQs – Holiday Pay Calculation and Other Working Time Developments - Ciara Fulton, Jones Cassidy Brett and Helen O'Brien, Personnel & Training Services

Calculating Holiday Pay - Helen O'Brien, Personnel & Training Services

Calculating Holiday Pay - Top Tips - Angela Schettino, Think People Consulting

Are employers obliged to pay holiday pay even when it has not been accrued? - Chris Fullerton, Arthur Cox


This article is correct at 02/02/2018

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Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors

The main content of this article was provided by Seamus McGranaghan. Contact telephone number is 028 9032 1000 or email seamus.mcgranaghan@oreillystewart.com

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