A ruling has been made in the Court of Justice of the European Union in the matter of King v. The Sash Windows Workshop Limited.
A tribunal held that Mr King was a ‘worker’ and therefore was entitled to paid annual leave, even though he believed that he was self-employed. The CJEU said that because Sash Windows had not paid for annual leave, Mr King could carry over his entitlement to paid annual leave and it would not be lost at the end of each year.
Claims for unpaid annual leave could potentially reach back to 1996 (when the original Working Time Directive came into force). Therefore, employers could potentially face bills for 20 years of holiday pay. Please note that this ruling only applies to the 4 weeks’ EU holiday entitlement and not the 5.6 weeks of holiday under UK law. However, this could still amount to substantial sums.
This ruling is particularly important when considering the number of matters that will be heard in the Supreme Court next year about the classification of those who work for employers such as Uber and Pimlico Plumbers. If it is decided that they are to be classified as 'workers', they would potentially be able to backdate their holiday pay claims to 1996. The ruling made it clear that ignorance on status is no defence for an employer.
Caspar Glyn QC has stated that "it may be a tide that overwhelms some employers".