The eagerly-awaited Court of Appeal decision in British Gas
v Lock has now been handed down. The hope for this decision
that it would clarify whether or not holiday pay should take
into account commission that would have been earned but for the
employee's holiday, or, put another way, that it would clarify
whether the Working Time Regulations 1998 can be interpreted in a
way that includes commission in holiday pay; and
that it would set out how to actually calculate the amount of
commission to be included in the holiday pay.
In answer to the first question the Court of Appeal reaffirmed
what has already been known for the last two years: that, subject
to certain conditions, commission is to be included in holiday pay.
With regards to the second question, the court stated that
"nothing in this judgment is intended to answer
[it]". So the position we are now in is that holiday pay
must include commission if the relevant conditions are met, but
that the correct reference period for working out how much
commission to pay is still unclear.
Given that British Gas has indicated that it has around 1,000
potential claims that have been awaiting this decision, and the
cost implications that these would have on its business, there is a
strong likelihood that British Gas will appeal this decision to the
Supreme Court. However, now that the Court of Appeal has ruled on
this issue, employers should, where relevant, ensure that
commission is included in holiday pay – something that could
have huge financial implications for employers with high numbers of
staff working on commission. As to what reference period to use for
calculating the commission to be paid, employers should, with
reference to general practice in the industry within which they
operate, look at their commission scheme and make a sensible
decision. Commentators have suggested that 12 weeks could be an
appropriate reference period, which could be a helpful starting
point for employers.
Despite Brexit, employers will still have to comply with this
decision as, until the UK leaves the EU, UK legislation has to be
interpreted in line with both EU directives and decisions of the
European Court of Justice.
It is worth noting, however, that the application of this
decision is limited to workers (1) with normal working hours; (2)
whose pay does not vary with the amount of work completed; and (3)
whose results-based commission is part of their normal
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April 2015 saw the reshaping of family-friendly leave with the birth of Shared Parental Leave (SPL). Can employers offer enhanced contractual pay to mothers/primary adopters but not to fathers/partners?
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