The claimant in Gareddu v London Underground Ltd had for several years taken five weeks’ leave in the summer to visit family and attend religious festivals in Sardinia. In 2015, following a change of manager, an application for five weeks’ consecutive leave for the summer was refused. When he was told that now a maximum of three weeks’ holiday could be taken consecutively, he raised an unsuccessful grievance on the grounds of religious discrimination. Following that, he brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
His claim was ultimately unsuccessful as his attendance record did not support his claim that he attended the same 17 festivals each year. In actual fact he had spent 9 days at festivals, and the remaining time with his family. However, the judgment demonstrates that had the facts been different and his claim had been accurate, he could have been entitled to take the additional time-off, and it could have been discrimination to deny this to him.
What Should Employers Do Next?
If your employees ask for additional vacation to attend religious festivals, then you should review such a request on a case-by-case basis. Ordinarily it ought to be possible for employees to take this holiday as part of their usual annual vacation entitlement. If it is not for some reason, then in the right circumstances it could be a protected act for the employee to request the time off.