The Supreme Court has given the green light to employers who wish to allocate statutory holidays to weeks where their staff would not otherwise be working. This week’s decision is about workers in the off-shore oil industry working a “two weeks on, two weeks off” shift pattern. They argued that their employer was not complying with the Working Time Regulations by requiring them to take their statutory holidays at times when they would not be working anyway. The Supreme Court has confirmed that there is nothing in the Regulations that prevents holidays being allocated in this way.
Although the claimants in this case were working in a highly specialised sector, the decision has much wider implications. Had they succeeded, the way would have been open for large numbers of workers with non-standard working patterns like teachers to challenge their contractual terms. Although attempts have been made in the past to challenge the universal practice of requiring teachers and other workers in the education sector to take their annual leave during school holidays, they have foundered at a lower level. We now have authority from the highest court in the land that this practice is lawful.