Belfast Telegraph

PSNI move to appeal £40m holiday pay decision

The PSNI is seeking to appeal the decision
The PSNI is seeking to appeal the decision

The PSNI is seeking to appeal a court decision that could see the force facing a £40 million holiday pay bill.

Last month, the Court of Appeal ruled that regular overtime worked by officers and staff, and other additional payments accrued on top of their basic salary, should be factored in when setting their holiday pay rate.

The ruling stated that staff were entitled to additional payments going back 20 years, estimated to be around £40m.

It has now emerged that the new PSNI Chief Constable, Stephen Byrne, has decided to seek leave to appeal the holiday pay judgement to the Supreme Court.

He said: “There are significant repercussions right across the public sector on the Court of Appeal’s finding, therefore I have concluded that it is important to seek further judicial clarity and I have instructed the PSNI legal representatives to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Mark Lindsay, the chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents officers and staff, said the PSNI's decision is "regrettable and unfortunate".

“If the Supreme Court grants this application, then it is possible that the issue will take even longer to get resolved," he said.

"It was going to be a protracted process to return to the Industrial Tribunal for adjudication of individual claims, but this latest legal action could cause even further delay.

“Our officers are owed money that is due because the PSNI failed to factor in overtime worked in holiday pay entitlement.

“We have already instructed our solicitors to mount a robust defence of our position on behalf of the 3,500 officers involved in the case.

"It is regrettable and unfortunate that the employer has taken this position, but from our perspective, we are determined to exhaust all legal avenues to ensure our men and women are paid what is rightfully due to them.”

Belfast solicitors Edwards and Co, which represents the officers involved in the case, said there is no guarantee the Supreme Court will hear the appeal.

"Our clients of course have won at every stage so far  – the Employment Tribunal and the Court of Appeal – and we expect the outcome to be the same if the Supreme Court does decide to hear it," senior partner Dorcas Crawford said.

“We have thousands of officers who are owed for under-payment of holiday pay stretching back more than twenty years and they, and their families, deserve to have this resolved.

“Our client, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, has instructed us to continue to pursue its members’ interests with the same vigour as we’ve done to date to ensure officers receive what they are entitled to."

In the wake of June's Court of Appeal decision, former PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the bill could affect police performance in Northern Ireland.

"It will have an impact of visibility of policing, on service delivery and how responsive we are," he said.

"We have already taken out £150m out of the baseline police budget in the last five years. I can't see where there's another £40m to come out without having a massive impact on service delivery... The money is going to have to come from somewhere."

During his last meeting with the Policing Board, Mr Hamilton stating that the appeal would focus on the technical aspects of the ruling, such as the time frame for backdated pay and how the pay rates are calculated.

Following the ruling, it emerged that other public sector bodies are also considering making claims for backdated holiday pay, which could cost the public purse hundreds of millions.

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