Trade union Unite is bringing the legal action on behalf of approximately 30 of its members who perform housing maintenance work for Mears Group on homes owned by Wigan and Leigh housing. The workforce are employed for 40 hours a week, and since each job they undertake has a set price, their pay varies from week to week.
The legal claim states that employees have a holiday entitlement of 23 days plus bank holidays, making a total of 31 days. However, the claim argues that Mears Group was paying its holiday pay on just the 23 holiday days and not for bank holidays.
Unite states that its Mears Group employed members are losing up to £80 for each unpaid holiday day.
The dispute came to light after employees booked their holiday for the 2016-2017 Christmas and new year period, to be paid on 13 January 2017. At this point, employees noted that their holiday pay had been reduced. Unite states that employees were told by Mears Group that the organisation only had to pay average holiday pay on 20 days of holiday.
Unite entered into discussions with Mears Group, arguing that holiday pay should be provided for all 31 days of holiday, however Mears Group management in Wigan informed the trade union that they would not be changing its policy.
As a result, Unite has launched a legal case for unpaid holiday pay at an employment tribunal. The initial hearing for the case has been scheduled for December.
A spokesperson at Mears Group said: “We will of course meet contractual commitment with individuals, which is what we believe we have done.”
John Sheppard, regional officer at Unite, added: “This is yet another example of Mears’ appalling local management, which believes that it can treat [employees] with absolute distain and cheat them out of their holiday pay. Unite did everything possible to resolve this issue through negotiation, but I was met with stalling tactics and arrogance.
“If Unite is successful at the employment tribunal then it will cost Mears a great deal more than it was originally paying. I hope that Mears is sufficiently embarrassed by this latest example of the arrogant, bullying and cavalier attitude of its local management and takes urgent remedial action to ensure its workforce is treated fairly, decently and with the respect they deserve.”