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13 years holiday back pay at self employed rates, more than a year’s earnings, must mean that Christmas is here for Mr Conley King. He might not be alone. The relatively new Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has vowed that its members will be “coming to collect” their back-holiday pay. That could be a substantial bombshell for anyone who assumes their “self-employed” workers are not entitled to holiday pay.

It all follows a landmark case at the European Court of Justice which has clarified that workers are entitled both to be paid for holidays and for back pay of any holiday taken but not paid. The unexpected entitlement arises because many self-employed people are not truly self-employed but “workers” and, from 1998, workers have been entitled to paid holidays. It was 4 weeks initially and then 5.6 weeks. The IWGB may be London centric but we have already seen substantial claims for back holiday pay among our clients and at Tribunal.

The risk arises because simply calling someone self-employed does not make them self-employed.

Are you at risk?

If you engage a “self-employed” person:

  • for several hours per week on a regular basis
  • have done so for some time without any significant breaks in regular work
  • don’t expect them to delegate the work to anyone else
  • pay them by the hour rather than by the job

then you are probably at risk. Even if you are, then there are actions that can be taken to minimise your exposure or to ensure safety for the future. Please get in touch.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice.