Case Studies

PSNI officers win over £30m in landmark holiday pay claim

4 minute read

Criminal Law: A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) contable on patrol in Belfast Northern Ireland

John McShane discusses the case on The Nolan Show

Employment law case study

In Northern Ireland, employees are entitled to holiday pay. This is by virtue of the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998. The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had calculated the amount of holiday pay police officers received by reference to their basic pay. However, it should have been calculated using normal pay, which includes overtime.

Class action lawsuit

Understandably, PSNI officers are required to do a great deal of overtime and because of this, they were not getting the holiday pay they were legally entitled to. McCartan Turkington Breen was contacted by a number of police officers and by civilian staff of the PSNI. They instructed employment law specialist, John McShane, to begin a class action lawsuit. If successful, all PSNI employees would also reap the benefits of the ruling. This class action ultimately increased to nearly 3,380 police officers and over 350 civilian staff.

John issued proceedings against the Chief Constable. He denied the allegations, so the matter was set to proceed to Industrial Tribunal and Fair Employment Tribunal. It was argued that there had been unlawful deductions from PSNI employees’ pay.

John McShane’s clients won their employment law case

A previous ruling in a high-profile case in Great Britain had determined that holiday pay should include an average of overtime. John used this ruling in his arguments on behalf of the clients. At the conclusion of the case, the Judge ruled in favour of the PSNI employees. The landmark case gained national media coverage and was reported on by the BBC, Belfast Telegraph and The Irish Times.

Commenting on the importance of the case, John said: “the Chief Constable’s failure to pay staff in accordance with the legal requirements resulted in the need for police and civilian staff to incur the cost of pursuing legal proceedings to seek redress for their lawful entitlement to be properly paid whilst on annual leave.”

The Chief Constable went on to appeal the decision and lost. You can learn more about the appeal at Judiciary NI.

Our employment law specialists can help you too

If you believe your employer is failing to respect your rights at work, we may be able to help. Visit Employment Law or learn more about our services. Alternatively, contact us for a free and confidential initial consultation with an employment law solicitor.


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