The former deputy chief executive of the Council of the Isles of Scilly has been compensated after an Employment Tribunal ruled that he was unfairly stripped of accrued annual leave entitlement.

After almost 40 years of working for the council, 60-year-old Neville Gardner had accrued 21 weeks of annual leave because he would often have to cancel planned leave to deal with emergencies on the islands, such as shipwrecks and flooding.

A complaint from a member of the public about the amount of annual leave accrued by senior executives at the council led to Neville’s work history being investigated, but, despite concluding that he had accumulated his leave fairly, a decision was made by his employer to remove all but 18.5 days of his 21 weeks accrued entitlement.

Neville contacted his trade union, UNISON, who brought in Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a compensation claim for breach of contract.

Neville’s case ended up in an Employment Tribunal in Bristol where he was awarded full remuneration for his lost annual leave.

Neville said: “I’d been involved with the authority since 1974 and intended to retire at 60. It was very sad that my final years of employment ended up being mired by such unfair treatment. It seemed to me that the council was willing to do anything it could to hide its own issues by making me out to be the one in the wrong. Luckily I had my trade union and Thompsons behind me to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Mark Alaszewski, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This case highlights how even 40 years’ service doesn’t stop employers trying to get one over on their employees and the importance of having trade unions there to back you up when they try it on. The case had to go to tribunal but the council was ultimately held to account and Neville completely vindicated.”