Belfast Telegraph

Holiday overtime ruling to boost part-time jobs sector

By Clare Weir

A new directive which means workers could be entitled to backpaid overtime as part of their holiday pay could create jobs in Northern Ireland, it's been claimed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that non-guaranteed overtime must be taken into account for the purposes of calculating holiday pay.

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that the ruling could drive some firms to the wall, but Janet Kerrigan from Willis Consulting, part of Willis Insurance & Risk Management, said that it may not be all bad news for businesses.

"With last year's Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency showing that the median gross weekly earnings for all employees over the year to April 2013 had increased, it's not surprising that we received many queries from local employers concerned about potential claims and what it means for their salary bill," she said.

"The judgment upholding the employees' claims suggests that employers across the province will potentially face considerable financial implications.

"Common feedback we've had from our clients is that in planning ahead, where their overtime bill is significant, employers may choose to create additional part-time posts.

"In light of the discussions in recent days regarding Northern budget cuts this could provide an unexpected jobs boost to certain sectors."

However, Ms Kerrigan added that, if the ruling is taken to the Court of Appeal, a final decision could be years away.

Gareth Walls, head of employment in Northern Ireland for solicitors A&L Goodbody, said that the scope for workers to bring claims for arrears of holiday pay is limited.

"Claims for arrears of pay will be out of time if there has been a break of more than three months between successive underpayments," he said.

"The EAT has yet to clarify how far claims will go back."

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