An employment tribunal heard in Central London, awarded two office workers almost £30,000 due to a mix up with their annual leave entitlement.
Imran Yousaf and Ying-Nan Wang worked 12 hour shifts every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night for Merrill Corporation. The company provides back office services to organisations in the financial sector. If there was ever a bank holiday that fell on any of their assigned days to work, they would have to work or at least find someone to cover their shift. This was stated in their contracts, however; evidence suggests that weekend workers are not normally required to work bank holidays unless they wanted to.
In January 2015, the organisation started to overhaul their staff handbook so it can be consistent globally. The work was almost done in October of that year and their HR department reviewed each employees contract. This was then completed and sent out to workers who worked over the weekend in February 2016.
When Yousaf and Nang received their new contract, they had a note informing them that no material changes had been made when in fact, Yousaf’s supervisor had noted the new contract stated there had been a reduction in the number of public holidays that he was allowed to take leave for. This had been reduced from eight days to five and this is because the days are pro-rata.
Following this, Yousaf complained to the HR department that he used to receive full entitlement to public holidays, but his new contract states differently. The HR department then responded and explained that the previous company handbook had been used inconsistently in the past. Yousaf and Nang refused to sign their new contracts and were then invited to a consultation meeting in June 2016.
After this took place, Merrill Corporation admitted there has been a change to the public holiday allowance within the handbook, and still went ahead with implementing the new strategy in January 2017. It was also added that both Yousaf and Nang would not be required to work on a bank holiday if it fell on a day they should be working. Because of this, another contract was sent out however, the workers refused to sign it again.
Yousaf and Nang were called to a second consultation and were warned that they could dismiss them under their current contract and then re-hire them under the new contract issues. They were then invited to a third consultation meeting in September and the company gave both workers notice to terminate their current contracts and offered to re-engage them on new terms. Both workers appealed the decision and neither were successful.
Allowing the claims for unfair dismissal, the employment tribunal came to the decision that Merrill Corporation had failed to prove they demonstrate fairness and consistency across the business. The conclusion of the tribunal was there wasn’t a justifiable reason for the dismissal. Judge Goodman read “A reasonable employer would not have sought to remove a week’s holiday from the weekend workers in the interests of fairness across the board”. The organisation was ordered to pay Yousaf £12,611.11 and Wang £17,217.46.
If you need advice or have any questions regarding annual leave entitlement and how best to communicate changes to contracts with employees, please contact a member of the HPC team…
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