An Appeal Court ruling on out of hours pay has triggered concerns that the holiday park industry could face substantial claims from employees.
Traditionally holiday park wardens have provided a 24 hour on-call service as part of their daily role but may have only been paid for part of that time.
Employment Tribunals have in the past ruled that employees should be paid at least the minimum wage for the time they are on-call even if they are sleeping.
That decision has been recently reversed by the Appeal Court for cases involving the care sector but it may not apply to the holiday park industry who could be open to significant compensation claims.
In addition, permission to appeal the decision is being sought and so this may not be the final position.
It is estimated it could cost park operators more than £20,000 a year per employee and claims for compensation could go back several years.
Now Hull based SJP Law, who provide a specialist legal service to the caravan and holiday park industry, have launched a dedicated service to help and advise holiday park owners.
Alistair Latham, Director of SJP Law, said: “The Appeal Court ruling applies to the care sector and therefore should be used with great care. Ignoring the law in this area may still have dire consequences for the holiday park industry.”
He explained that most holiday parks employ wardens to carry out a range of day time duties and to be on-call during the night should an emergency arise and he urged operators to review their employment contracts and working methods to safeguard against any potential liability.
Mr Latham said: “This is a serious situation for park operators and we have set up a dedicated service to help them to assess their risk and to provide them with revised employment documentation and adapt their working requirements where necessary.”
The Appeal Court decided that workers in the care sector who are “contractually obliged to spend the night at or near their workplace on the basis that they are expected to sleep for all or most of the period but may be woken if required to undertake some specific activity ” do not have to be paid whilst they are asleep.
“This is a narrow band of worker and it is far from certain if it applies to holiday parks and wardens as it is so specific. In addition, permission is being sought to appeal the decision so it may well change” said Mr Latham.
“If park operators believe that this may be an issue for their business they need to take action sooner rather than later so that steps can be taken to reduce any potential liability.
“The end of the season is always a good time to review employment documentation and look at these issues because changes can be made more easily in the off season for implementation at the start of the next season.”
Mr Latham added:”If an employee is deemed to be working at any particular time, regardless of whether it is designated on-call or standby time, then they may have a right to be paid at least the national minimum wage.
“They may also have been receiving the incorrect amount of holiday pay or rest periods.
“All of which means that claims for none payment of wages could be significant and potentially go back many years – and usually such claims will not be covered by any insurance policy.
“Businesses may also be publicly named and shamed causing damage to their brand and future income.
“It is a worrying situation for many park operators but we have an experienced team
available to help owners work through this to minimise any financial impact and eliminate potential reputational damage.”
More information can be found at:
Media Contact: Steve Verrill – VPR- 01430 871166 or 07725 196753