Belfast Telegraph

PSNI taking holiday pay appeal to the Supreme Court

Simon Byrne
Simon Byrne
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The Chief Constable is taking a legal challenge over an unpaid holiday pay bill of £40m directly to the UK's highest court.

Simon Byrne is taking the step in the protracted case after the Court of Appeal refused to reverse the decision of a 2018 employment tribunal.

This stated that regular overtime worked by officers should be part of their holiday pay, meaning an estimated cost of £40m stretching back 20 years.

In July Mr Byrne decided to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling and was required to seek leave to appeal in line with statutory procedures.

The PSNI said this was refused by the Court of Appeal on Monday "as it considered the issues were best addressed directly to the Supreme Court". It added: "Legal representatives will now petition directly to the Supreme Court."

Belfast law firm Edwards and Co, which represents 3,500 officers, said there was no guarantee the case would be accepted.

"This is what we expected. The Court of Appeal refused leave and now it is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it will hear an appeal," said senior partner Dorcas Crawford.

"The Supreme Court does not accept all cases. It will decide whether this is a case of general public importance, which is the test that determines whether it considers an appeal should be heard.

"The Chief Constable's lawyers will have to outline in their petition why they believe the court should hear this case.

"Yet again, this is a delay to the matter being resolved for thousands of our clients, who will have to keep on waiting for pay that is rightfully theirs'."

John McShane, of MTB Solicitors, is also representing a number of officers and civilian police workers.

"We note that leave has been refused and we will now look ahead to the matter being dealt with by the Supreme Court," Mr McShane said.

Mr Byrne said in July the extra cost could have "significant repercussions right across the public sector".

His predecessor George Hamilton said in June the £40m bill could negatively affect policing.

"We have already taken £150m out of the baseline police budget in the last five years," Mr Hamilton added.

"I can't see where there's another £40m coming out without having an impact on service delivery. The money is going to have to come from somewhere."

It has also emerged that other public sector organisations are considering claims to backdate holiday pay, which could mean a cost of hundreds of millions to the public purse.

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