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Temporary workers entitled to holiday pay

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that all temporary workers are entitled to paid annual leave irrespective of the length of their employment. This decision departs from the previous UK interpretation of EU regulations regarding working time, which had only allowed paid holiday where the temporary worker had been employed for at least 13 weeks.02 Jul 2001

This condition had meant that millions of temporary employees could not claim annual paid leave or receive payment in lieu. The test case brought by Broadcasting and Entertainment Union (BECTU), has enabled the ECJ to remove this qualifying condition. As a result, millions of temporary workers will now be entitled to holiday pay.

However, the CBI has expressed its disappointment with the ruling since domestic law will now have to be amended to comply with the ECJ ruling and EU legislation. The amendment process places further responsibility on the Government and may prove to be lengthy. The holiday pay ruling may be seen as a further impediment to employers resulting from EU involvement.

Such developments appear to undermine the Government’s election manifesto promise to reduce the number of obligations on employers. Further examples indicating that this has not been achieved include the recent decision taken by European ministers to pass legislation forcing companies to consult with their workers on key decisions. In addition, substantial new anti-discrimination legislation is being introduced from Europe, which will place heavier burdens on employers for the foreseeable future.