Yes, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in a recent important judgment.
In King v Sash Windows, the CJEU heard that Mr King was believed to be self-employed, and his 'employer' therefore did not give him paid holidays. But a tribunal held he was a worker and therefore entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave. The employer argued that the Working Time Regulations 1998 provide that if paid holiday is not taken in a leave year, then it is lost.
The CJEU disagreed and ruled that if a worker is prevented from taking their paid holiday because the 'employer' won't grant the paid holiday, they are being prevented from exercising their EU rights. As such, they cannot be stopped from bringing a claim just because a new holiday year starts.
More fundamentally, the CJEU held that the back pay claim can go all the way back to 1996, when the original Working Time Directive came into force.
The practical implications of this decision are that employers whose 'self-employed' contractors turn out to be 'workers' (as can be seen in the recent decision in Uber) may find themselves facing very substantial holiday pay bills, dating back 20 years.
If you are a worker or self-employed and have been refused holiday pay, do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist employment law solicitors on 0175 321 6399 to establish whether or not you have a claim.