Landmark case: ISM music teacher wins claim to annual leave and holiday pay

Today, (Tuesday 6 August) ISM member Lesley Brazel, a clarinet and saxophone teacher who works part-time (between 10-15 hours a week) at the independent Bedford Girls' School during term time, took the school to court over the way that her holiday pay was calculated. Mrs Brazel had sought clarification on how the school should calculate her pay, as a part-time but a permanent member of staff.

Mrs Brazel had first sought legal advice from the ISM in 2013 regarding her terms and conditions with, Bedford Girls School which is part of the Harpur Trust. The court found that Ms Brazel's holiday pay had been erroneously calculated and the method of "pro-rating" used by the trust to work out holiday pay was not provided for within the working time regulations. The court judgement describes her as a “part-year worker”, who has a continuing employment contract but whose hours differ from term-to-term and between term time and holidays.

For the past six years, the ISM backed Mrs Brazel and appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The ISM recognised the importance of this case to thousands of visiting music teachers and we were not surprised when the employers appealed to the Court of Appeal. The ISM’s legal expenses insurance funded Mrs Brazel’s case.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal on 2 May 2019 and the ISM delighted that the Court has found in favour of our member, Mrs Brazel. This is a vindication of the ISM’s decision to back Mrs Brazel through the courts. There can now be no confusion as to how both annual leave and holiday pay are calculated.

A link to the judgment is available here.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

“We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has backed the legal advice given by the ISM’s in-house legal team to Mrs Brazel back in 2013. This case is of tremendous importance to all music teachers working in a school setting and to hundreds of thousands of workers. It also shows the incredible determination of Mrs Brazel and commitment of the ISM supporting our member across many years. We could not have done this without the help and support of our wider legal team, Hopkins Solicitors and Counsel from 3PB, Mr Wilson and Mr Gullick, funded by the ISM’s legal expenses insurance. All ISM members have access to our outstanding legal services, a central pillar of being part of the ISM community.”

ISM member Lesley Brazel said:

"As an alumni of the school where I have now been teaching for almost 20 years, pursuing a career I am passionate about, it has been personally challenging for me to see through this long and arduous case. I am pleased to have finally secured a basic employment right in accordance with the law and as stated in my employment contract. I am indebted to my family and friends for their emotional support and to the ISM, and the wider legal team, for their ongoing legal and financial support throughout, without which none of this would have been possible."

Notes for Editors

The ISM legal team argued right from the start that all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday pay per year. We made clear that payment for each weeks holiday should be calculated according to section 221-224 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This stipulates that when payment to employees varies, then the average of the last 12 weeks paid work, prior to taking leave should be used.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal on 2 May 2019 and we are delighted that today the Court has found in favour of our member, Mrs Brazel. This is a vindication of the ISM’s decision to back Mrs Brazel through the courts. There can now be no confusion as to how annual leave and holiday pay are calculated. Lord Justice Underhill made it clear in the decision that the Working Time Regulations “simply require the straightforward exercise of identifying one week’s pay in accordance with the provisions of sections 221-224 of the Employment Rights Act and multiplying that figure by 5.6.” This is what the ISM has argued all along. This was the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal.

About the ISM

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession.

We support almost 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds.

We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.