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ISM heralds ‘landmark’ Mrs Brazel success in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of The Harpur Trust and found in favour of ISM member Lesley Brazel regarding holiday pay.

The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court concludes a long-running case which could improve holiday pay for thousands of workers in the education sector and beyond. The ISM has supported its member, Mrs Brazel, throughout the case, since being approached for legal advice in 2013.

Today’s Supreme Court judgment will impact not only on the holiday pay of visiting music teachers, but also on holiday pay rights for thousands of others who work term-time only.

The ISM in-house team of lawyers supports members all year round in cases ranging from unpaid fees to redundancy and discrimination. ISM members have free-of-charge access to the legal team, who deal with over 1,600 cases per year. A member of the ISM legal team saw the potential for the case when approached by Mrs Brazel.

The case

Mrs Brazel’s employer, The Harpur Trust, calculated her holiday pay entitlement based only on her term-time teaching hours. They did this on the basis that Mrs Brazel is not contracted to teach music lessons to pupils in school holidays.

The ISM has always maintained that there is no legal basis for reducing our members’ annual holiday entitlement in this way. Instead, paid holiday entitlement should be calculated in the same way as for any other worker – by taking a normal week’s pay and multiplying it by 5.6.

The ISM has supported Mrs Brazel through grievance, Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court. This is a vindication of the ISM’s decision to back Mrs Brazel through the courts.


In dismissing the Harpur Trust’s appeal, the Supreme Court has unanimously backed the ISM’s interpretation of holiday pay law.

The law is clear – all workers have a minimum statutory entitlement to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year.

The ISM’s view is that holiday pay should be calculated straightforwardly, by simply taking a normal week’s pay and multiplying it by 5.6.

The Supreme Court judgment means an end to the widespread underpayment of holiday pay for term-time only workers in the education sector.


Commenting, ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said, ‘This is a landmark decision from the Supreme Court and is likely to have ramifications for thousands of workers. Many of those will be in low-paid and insecure jobs.

‘The ISM is extremely proud to have supported Mrs Brazel throughout this case, and we always do our utmost for our members. We hope that this verdict will mean that any other worker who has not received their proper holiday pay entitlement will now see it changed in line with this judgment.

‘Music teachers often go above and beyond for their students but all too often they are not treated in the way they deserve.

‘I’m delighted for Mrs Brazel and pay tribute to her determination over many years. Others will benefit thanks to her. I would also like to thank the ISM legal team who support members every day and I am very proud of the ISM team for the work they do. This result could not have been achieved without the help and support of a wider legal team funded by the ISM’s legal expenses insurance, which is available to all ISM members.

Mrs Lesley Brazel
said, ‘As an alumna of the school where I have now been teaching for over 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 secured my holiday pay rights, in accordance with the law and my contract of employment, in the highest court in the country. I hope that others can now benefit from this verdict.

‘I would like to thank my legal team and the ISM for their support over many years – this would not have been possible without them.