Ucatt celebrates legal victory as judge says housebuilder drew up 'sham' contracts to avoid holiday pay obligations

Ucatt has won a victory at the Employment Appeal Tribunal against housing giant Redrow Homes, over the use of substitution clauses in contracts that enabled it to avoid holiday pay.

The case involved two Ucatt members from East Yorkshire who had been employed as bricklayers by Redrow Homes (Yorkshire Ltd).

The men had signed contracts, describing themselves as “self-employed bricklayers”, with the contract containing a clause allowing the workers to send a substitute in their place.

In autumn 2007, the Hull Employment Tribunal judged the contracts to be a “sham” as it “did not seriously reflect the relationship between the parties” and “it was never expected by either side, seriously or otherwise, that either of the claimants would seek to provide a substitute or refuse the work offered”.

The tribunal was also highly critical of the company, stating: “Redrow in effect wanted workers but did not want to incur the obligation to pay holiday pay.”

Redrow appealed the original judgement to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), but after a nine-month delay the EAT again last week ruled in the union’s favour.

The latest judgment is particularly embarrassing for Redrow. In 2004 the company lost a similar case at the Court of Appeal, and as a result, the company redrafted their standard subcontractor terms and conditions in an attempt to continue avoiding paying holiday pay to workers who appeared to be legitimately self-employed.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of Ucatt, said: “This judgment is highly significant. It once again shows that construction companies have got to realise that like the rest of the economy, their workers are fully entitled to receive holiday pay.”