What constitutes a ‘series of deductions’ ?

2 July 2024

In British Airways plc v Mello [2024] EAT 53, the EAT took the opportunity to clarify what could and could not be considered part of a ‘series of deductions’ in the context of an unlawful deduction from wages claim.

The first instance tribunal erred in its assessment of whether deductions from wages were ‘sufficiently similar’ and ‘sufficiently temporal’ to form part of a ‘series of deductions’ for the purposes of the time limit that applies to a series of unauthorised deductions under s13 Employment Rights Act 1996.

All of the deductions related to holiday pay, and all arose because of a failure to factor in one or more allowance relating to the Claimant’s pay.  The tribunal had erred in seeking to differentiate individual periods of holiday on the ground that different allowances applied to each (whilst ignoring the simple point that they were all holidays).

The EAT held that the source of the holiday entitlement (or the allowance that applied to each) was less important than the end result which was that each deduction related  to a period of holiday. As all of the deductions related to holiday periods where the employer had failed to factor in one or more allowances, the individual leave days were to be treated as part of a composite whole.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland v Agnew [2024] ICR 51 SC also affirms that a gap in a series of deduction of more than 3 months no longer automatically breaks the chain for calculating a ‘series of deductions’.


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