One in 12 workers not getting legal holiday entitlement, warns TUC

By agency reporter
July 28, 2018

New TUC analysis reveals that one in 12 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement.

The analysis estimates that 2.2 million employees are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement they are due. And over half of this number (1.2 million) are not getting any paid leave at all.

The analysis shows:

  • Workers are losing out on nearly £3 billion worth of paid leave a year.
  • 9.2 per cent of female workers and 7.2 per cent of male workers are losing out.
  • The sectors in which workers are most likely to lose out are agriculture (14.9 per cent), mining and quarrying (14.7 per cent) and accommodation and food (13.9 per cent).
  • The sectors with highest numbers of staff losing out are retail (348,000), education (342,000) and health and social care workers (291,000).

Working people are entitled to a statutory annual minimum of 28 days paid leave (pro rata and including public holidays).

The TUC says the main reasons people are missing out are:

  • Workers being set unrealistic workloads that do not allow time to take leave.
  • Employers deliberately denying holiday requests and managing out people’s leave.
  • Employers not keeping up to date with the law.

Minimum holiday entitlements are a vital part of reducing overwork, says the TUC. People who work excessive hours are at risk of developing heart disease, stress, mental illness, strokes, and diabetes, which also impacts on co-workers, friends, and relatives.

The TUC wants HMRC to be granted new powers to clamp down on employers who deny staff their statutory holiday entitlement. This would include the power to ensure that workers are fully compensated for missed holidays.

The government has recently consulted on enforcing holiday entitlements but has yet to announce any plans. The TUC says ministers must guarantee all UK workers can take the holidays that they are entitled to. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’re now in peak holiday season. But while many workers are away enjoying time off with friends and family, millions are missing out. And that puts them at risk of burnout.

“Employers have no excuse for robbing staff of their well-earned leave. UK workers put in billions of hours of unpaid overtime as it is.

“The government must toughen up enforcement to stop bosses cheating staff out of their leave.“

UK workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid leave through the Working Time Regulations 1998 (amended 2009). This means 28 days for a typical five-day week, with pro-rata entitlement for those who work less than five days. The minimum entitlement includes the UK's public holidays. Individuals might be entitled to additional leave in their employment contracts.

The 2017 Taylor Review on modern work practices proposed that “HMRC should take responsibility for enforcing the basic set of core pay rights that apply to all workers – National Minimum Wage, sick pay and holiday pay for the lowest paid workers.”

A subsequent government consultation (Feb 2018) said “The government accepts the case for the state enforcing a basic set of core rights for the most vulnerable workers, and intends to move in this direction”. The TUC argues that all workers should have their holiday rights guaranteed.

* Trades Union Congress


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