As we approach the annual summer holiday period, it is interesting to note that a third-level lecturer has been awarded €10,000 in compensation after her employer deducted 8% of her pay from her wages over a lengthy period to allegedly "fund" holiday pay given to her in July and January each year. Our Adrian Twomey looks at the recent decision in the case of Roche Morrissey v Independent Colleges Dublin, ADJ-00034131.
The employee complainant in the case, Ms Roche Morrissey, commenced employment as a part-time lecturer in 2019. Her trade union told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that her rate of pay was €80 per hour but that 8% of that amount was deducted from her wages and effectively saved by the college to fund her holiday pay each year.
The college argued that the applicable rate of pay was €74.07 and that it complied with the legislation governing holidays when it afforded her paid annual leave annually in January and July. Her holiday entitlement, it said, was equivalent to 8% of the hours that she worked in a given leave year.
Having considered the evidence, the WRC Adjudication Officer, Mr. Brady, concluded that the employee's evidence was "entirely credible" and that her hourly rate, as communicated to her at her interview, was €80. On that basis, he went on to find that "the respondent operates a bizarre and unlawful scheme of deductions ... purporting to fund annual leave which it should cease immediately."
The Adjudication Officer awarded €10,000 in compensation to the lecturer and ordered the college to comply with the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 in future and to cease making the "holiday" deductions from her wages.
It is worth noting that part-time workers who work less than 117 hours per month are entitled to be paid annual leave equivalent to 8% of the hours that they work. In this case, some apparently slipshod paperwork and communications with the employee turned out to be very expensive indeed for the employer.
Employers requiring advice on how to handle employee leave entitlements should feel free to contact our Adrian Twomey.