Average Pay on Annual Leave (Holiday Pay) in Royal Mail Group
Further to the announcement relayed to Branches and members by the DGS(P) via a live video stream/podcast on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th June 2021 informing colleagues that the Postal Executive had endorsed an agreement on the above, we have produced this LTB as a further update.
The aim of this LTB is to provide some clarity around what the Union has achieved and to some extent close the knowledge gap on what has been accomplished by negotiation and what represents in our opinion the best possible collective outcome. There can be no doubt that the business has been avoiding doing the right thing in this regard for many years hiding behind the issue of insufficient legal case study. It should also be recognised that the Union supporting individuals making claims against the company has created the urgency required to resolve this issue. This Agreement will be one of the biggest in the country in respect of a single employer and we hope other workers trying to resolve the same issue with their employer will be encouraged by it.
By way of background, it is important for colleagues to understand that the issue of average holiday pay for ah-hoc /non-contractual overtime has been ongoing since 2014. The Union’s position at that time was to engage with the employer to find a settlement and because of this the Union would not be in a position to provide legal advice to members however those who wished to pursue their own claims were at liberty to do so. In effect the joint strategy at that point was to wait for legal cases to be brought and for the outcomes to inform the structure of a future agreement with Royal Mail Group.
It is also important that all colleagues understand that the legal requirement was and remains that any successful case reached at an ET would only be able to be applied to the first 4 weeks of any individual’s annual leave. This fact should be recognised when considering what has been achieved for part-timers in this agreement. The vast majority of cases was from part-time members being used constantly by the business as flexible resource working above their conditioned hours on a regular basis but not having those earnings recognised when going on leave.
Despite the Union’s best efforts and having made significant headway on contractual overtime/Scheduled Attendance being paid on all contractual leave since 2014, an agreement of ad-hoc/non-contractual overtime which particularly disadvantaged part-time members, remained unresolved.
Against this backdrop, for the past three years the DGS(P) Department in conjunction with the CWU Legal Services Department and Postal Branches ran a high profile communications campaign aimed at maximising the publicity surrounding the number of individual holiday pay cases pursued by members with Employment Tribunals.
This figure eventually peaked at approximately 7,000 individual cases being lodged with ET’s or their equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland covering the whole of the UK. While this figure only represented around 6% of the CWU membership, the numbers involved were a major factor in bringing the employer to the table and this time with a genuine commitment to reach a settlement which has now been achieved.
Notwithstanding the complications of the legalities of what an individual’s leave entitlement are, specifically for part-time members and having to overcome the other major legal hurdle of what constitutes regular ad-hoc/non-contractual overtime, which has never been determined or qualified in any Employment Tribunal ruling/judgment to date. The Union has achieved what the Postal Executive believe is a significant breakthrough in addressing the long-standing grievances our part-time members have relating to the resourcing models being used in effect as a flexible resource within units by performing up to full-time hours but only receiving their contractual conditioned hours when they take annual leave.
To help close both the knowledge gap and to provide colleagues with a better understanding of what has been secured in advance of the wider communications exercise being developed to support the deployment on the Average Holiday Pay on Annual Leave Agreement, the salient points/achievements are summarised below:
- Average Holiday Pay for ad-hoc/non-contractual overtime will be paid for all of an individual’s contractual holiday entitlement up to the maximum accrual of 6 weeks.
- Where part-time members work in excess of full-time hours, an additional average holiday payment of ad-hoc/non-contractual overtime will also be calculated and paid for the first 4 weeks of annual leave.
- Average Holiday Pay for ad-hoc/non-contractual overtime will be paid for the first 4 weeks of annual leave.
All of the above will be based on meeting the agreed regulatory criteria of performing a minimum of 8 hours’ overtime within each month of the agreed reference periods of 6 months’ duration. Further details of the periods and the mechanics of the agreement will be circulated in the further communications currently being drawn up.
In addition, the Union has secured within the agreement those periods of Maternity, Paternity, SPL and Adoption Leave for the purposes of the regulatory threshold which will be treated as pro-rata for the qualifying period.
Coupled with the above, it is agreed that all RMG Employees/CWU Members will receive up to 2 years back pay, subject to meeting the above qualifying criteria.
To conclude, the agreement will be put to a vote via a branch ballot and the timetable is currently being worked up and will be advised to Branches in due course. The above is just a snapshot of what has been secured for CWU members in particular our part-time colleagues’ benefits which go way beyond what the current employment legislation provides.
Some legal issues are in the process of being finalised and subject to the outcome the ballot, I believe the Union has secured what I hope will become a benchmark for other Unions and employers to follow.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)