Case from Northern Ireland considers voluntary overtime and holiday pay

The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland delivered its judgment on whether employers should take into account voluntary overtime when calculating holiday pay in Patterson v Castlereagh Borough Council.  ‘Voluntary overtime’ refers to situations in which the employee is not under an obligation to work overtime and the employer is not obliged to offer any to the worker.

In a first instance ruling, the Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland (NI) concluded that voluntary overtime should not be included when establishing entitlement to annual leave. However, this decision was overturned by the NI Court of Appeal which applied the legal principles established in the UK case of Bear Scotland v Fulton and concluded that there was no reason why voluntary overtime should not be included as part of holiday pay.   

It is worth noting that although any decisions by NI courts are not binding on tribunals and courts in Great Britain, these judgements are likely to be considered as persuasive authorities and could be followed, in rulings from the English and Welsh employment tribunals.