Holiday pay safeguard

Freelances cannot be deprived of holiday pay for any untaken leave.

A key Industrial Tribunal case, taken by BECTU against Granada Television, has established a new legal framework for freelancers' holiday entitlement.

Employers cannot deprive freelance workers of payment for any leave which remains untaken at the end of a period of employment.

The Tribunal decided that the three BECTU members were entitled to compensation for annual leave which remained to be taken at the end of their employment, which added up to twenty weeks spread over a period of five months - typical for film and TV freelancers.

The Tribunal found that the members met the minimum threshold working requirement of thirteen weeks under the UK Regulations implementing the European Working Time Directive and awarded the three BECTU members sums ranging from £994 to £1,428.

Since then BECTU has won a crucial judgement by the European Court of Justice which entitles UK workers to holiday from day one of their employment.

BECTU freelance official Martin Spence said, "This judgement, and the ECJ decision which followed it, means BECTU has been able to win greater rights for many thousands of freelance workers."

But he warned "Employers will still get up to their tricks and freelancers need to be alert. A favourite ploy is for the employer to agree a rate and then afterwards claim 'it includes holiday pay'. The best way to protect yourself is to be absolutely clear from the start what your rate represents."

With this in mind BECTU has issued a pro forma confirmation of booking letters which freelancers should use to protect themselves when agreeing to contracts.

BECTU members can obtain the pro forma letter on request by letter or email to BECTU Head Office - please include membership number and return address.

7 September 2001