Settlement for Unpaid Holiday Pay to Police Officer and Police Staff now estimated at £40million

The Court of Appeal in Belfast has today dismissed an appeal against a previous tribunal decision on a class action brought by a group representing 3,700 police officers and civilian police staff of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

In November, the Tribunal had decided that unlawful deductions from their holiday pay entitlements are in breach of fundamental European law rights.  The decision at that time was estimated to result in a total award of £30million.

The Chief Constable challenged this decision, which today reached the Court of Appeal in Belfast, where the challenge was dismissed, leaving the previous decision standing.

In a further cross-appeal by the claimants, an additional challenge was made on the correct calculation of the holiday pay, arguing that instead of 365 days a year, the calculation should be based on the actual number of working days. The Court of Appeal upheld this cross-appeal, meaning that the amount of the settlement is now likely to increase by a third, to £40million.

The case was brought by a group of 14 lead claimants representing two groups: police constables and sergeants (for whom the Chief Constable of the PSNI is answerable) and NIPSA Police Staff workers, such as forensic staff and crime scene surveyors (for whom the Police Authority for Northern Ireland is answerable).

John McShane, Solicitor, with McCartan Turkington Breen (MTB), representing the 9 of the 11 police officers and 2 civilian staff claimants, explained, “The issue in question was whether these groups should have their overtime and other allowances included in the calculation of their “normal” pay, in order to work out their holiday pay entitlements.  

“Up until now, holiday pay has been based on working basic contracted hours and has not taken into account the often extensive additional hours required by their work.   

“In 2014 a high-profile case in GB determined that pay whilst on annual leave should include an average of overtime and other allowances.  Cases were pursued here because the PSNI had not sought to comply with these legal obligations. The cases also addressed to what extent arrears of these unlawful deductions of wages, backdated to 1998 could be claimed.  In England and Wales, legislation was introduced to limit any arrears claim to 2 years.  No such equivalent legislation was passed by the NI Assembly.”

NIPSA Official Antoinette McMillen stated: 

“This is  a fantastic result for police staff.  Employers have failed to pay the correct wages to workers when on holiday since 1998. The cost is significant but the court of appeal has ruled that workers are entitled to reclaim that money owed to them.  If any worker worked  from 9 to 5 but were only paid 9 to 4 then they would undoubtedly expect to recoup the wages not paid for that hour.  NIPSA police staff members and NIPSA Solicitor John McShane of MTB  have won this appeal for all workers in Northern Ireland and they are to be commended for doing so. NIPSA will continue to take forward important ground breaking cases for its members where necessary. This case shows the importance of all workers joining a trade union, without being a member of a trade union, individuals would struggle to pay the costs to take forward case such as this"