In Fulton and Anor v Bear Scotland Ltd, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (‘EAT’) has confirmed the earlier decision that, for the purposes of bringing unlawful deductions of wages claims, a three-month gap does break the series of deductions.
In earlier EAT proceedings in the case of Bear Scotland & Ors v Fulton & Ors (2014), the EAT held that more than three months between an underpayment of holiday pay broke the series of deductions, preventing the Employment Tribunal (ET) from having jurisdiction to consider claims relating to earlier underpayments. When the case was remitted to the ET, it concluded it was bound by the earlier decision, excluding claims where more than three months had passed between successive non or underpayments of holiday pay. The claimants appealed this decision, arguing the EAT’s earlier finding on the ‘break the series’ point was not legally binding on the ET and that the three-month rule would lead to arbitrary and unfair results. However, the EAT rejected these arguments and re-confirmed that a gap of 3 months would break the series of deductions.
It is not yet known whether EAT’s decision will be challenged in the Court of Appeal. For the time being, this is a positive ruling for employers as it provides confirmation they have the protection of a three month back pay limit, which will prevent extensive claims and limit any liability and costs.