Supreme Court ends British Gas holiday pay challenge

06 March 2017


Last autumn, the Court of Appeal found in favour of the UNISON-backed case, but British Gas’s decision to continue its challenge meant employees across the UK have had to wait a little longer to learn the outcome.

UNISON reports that the thousands of working people whose wages include an element of commission, will now be quids in following the Supreme Court decision to refuse British Gas the right to appeal. However the union has also warned that the decision, based on the Working Time Directive, could be at risk if the UK government opts for a hard Brexit.


Commenting on the Supreme Court decision, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“It’s taken nearly five years to get here, but now all employees who earn commission will see that reflected in their holiday pay.

Until now, many whose wages included commission lost a lot of money whenever they took a holiday. Many simply couldn’t afford to go away. Today’s decision puts right that wrong.

But this is an employment right based on a European directive, something that could well disappear once the UK finds itself outside the EU. The government must prove it’s on the side of ordinary workers by showing how it’s going to protect all rights such as these.”



Lock was employed by British Gas as a salesman and was represented by UNISON. His remuneration package included basic salary plus commission based on the number (and type) of contracts he persuaded customers to sign up to. When he took holiday, he only got his basic pay. This was significantly less than his normal pay and he said it was a disincentive to take annual leave.

UNISON supported Mr Lock’s claim along with over 700 others currently lodged with an employment tribunal pending the outcome of his case. He first challenged this at an employment tribunal in April 2012. The case was referred to the European Court of Justice that ruled in his favour. It was then referred back to the employment tribunal, which did the same.

Last October British Gas was unsuccessful in its appeal, and now the Supreme Court put an end to the company’s legal challenge.


CIPP comment

The CIPP run a practical half day course which includes an overview of the legal framework that governs holiday pay and entitlement, as well as worked exercises to explore the calculations thoroughly. This course will always include the most up to date information to account for ongoing case law. Visit the payroll training area of our website for full details.