A UK window salesman who did not receive a paid holiday for 13 years has been backed at the European Court of Justice in his landmark legal battle.
Conley King worked for a sash window firm on a self-employed basis, but was later found to have workers’ rights.
In a closely-watched case, the EU court ruled Mr King was also entitled to his untaken leave at the company.
Legal analysts said the decision could have significant implications for firms in the so-called gig economy.
Mr King worked as a commission-based salesman for The Sash Window Workshop between 1999 and 2012.
A UK tribunal ruled after he left that Mr King should have been classified as a worker.
He then brought a claim for £27,000 of holiday pay he should have received.
The European court was asked to decide whether EU law allowed him to claim payment for the entire length of his employment.
It decided there was no time limit for his claim, a decision which lawyers said opens the door for similar cases.
“An employer that does not allow a worker to exercise his right to paid annual leave must bear the consequences,” the court ruled.
Legal experts said the decision meant companies which routinely use staff on self-employed contracts – such as taxi or delivery firms – could face potentially huge liabilities if that status is later challenged.
James Williams, the barrister who represented Mr King, said it left employers who have miscategorised workers as self-employed, liable for back holiday pay when the workers’ employment is terminated.
The case now returns to the UK Court of Appeal for a further ruling.