LOW-paid Butlins workers could net a £1million payout after Friday's landmark court ruling said they received below the minimum wage after deductions.

The Court of Appeal ruled seasonal staff living at Butlins and Haven Holidays' resorts received below the statutory minimum during 2004 and 2005 after being deducted £6 fortnightly for gas and electricity bills.

One of three Butlins resorts is in Minehead while Haven Holidays runs 34 holidays parks across Britain, including in Watchet and Burnham-on-Sea.

HM Revenue and Customs said thousands of workers would now share up to £1million in pay arrears.But Butlins and Haven Holidays, which are owned by Leisure Employment Services, disputed the number of workers affected and said the payout would be far lower.

In his judgement, Lord Justice Buxton said the staff concerned included bar workers, shop assistants, receptionists, security staff, electricians and plumbers.

He said: "LES workers are paid the amount of the minimum wage less the accommodation charge. "That is entirely in accordance with the statutory scheme.

"However, if the £6 per fortnight is added to the accommodation charge, that will take the total package below the statutory minimum."

Afterwards, Denise Gaston, Revenue and Customs national minimum wage business manager, said: "The ruling is good news for all workers living in accommodation provided by their employer.

"It reinforces the fact that deductions for things like heating and lighting must not take workers' pay below their legal entitlement."

It is understood most of those affected were Butlins staff as few Haven Holidays' workers live on site.

A spokesman for the two companies said Butlins was carefully considering the implications of the ruling, which directly concerned seven former workers.

The spokesman said: "The employees wage was deducted by £3 per week - well below the commercial tariff charged to Butlins by the utility companies.

"The company is now concerned that supplying heat and light to live-in accommodation via meters means that Butlins will have no control over the vagaries of price hikes imposed by utility providers and that our employees may suffer unnecessary hardship."

The spokesman said all live-in workers employed during 2004 and 2005 would be fully recompensed but was unable to confirm how many were from Butlins in Minehead.

The case originally began as an Employment Tribunal brought in 2005 by Revenue and Customs against LES.

When the tribunal was brought, about 41% of Butlins and Haven workers were living on site in shared caravans or chalets.

Revenue and Customs lost the case but succeeded in March 2006 with an appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

LES then took to the case to the Court of Appeal in January 2007.