Two million workers not getting legal holiday entitlement, warns TUC

By agency reporter
July 23, 2019

New TUC analysis reveals that one in 14 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement.

The analysis estimates that nearly two million employees (1.960 million) are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement they are due. And over a million (1.145 million) are not getting any paid leave at all.

The analysis shows:

  • Women workers (8.3 per cent) are worse affected than men (5.9 per cent).
  • The sectors with the highest numbers of staff losing out on their legal holiday paid entitlement are education (341,000), retail (302,000), and health and social care (264,000).

The number of people taking unpaid holiday claims to a tribunal has more than doubled since tribunal fees were abolished in 2017, following a legal victory by UNISON.

The majority of holiday pay cases are found in the claimant’s favour, with values ranging from £18.94 to £11,000. Most are for a few hundred pounds.

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.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Every worker deserves a break to spend time off with friends and family. But millions are missing out on the paid leave they are owed.

“British workers put in billions of pounds worth of unpaid overtime as it is. Employers have no excuse for robbing staff of their leave.

“The government must toughen up enforcement to stop bosses cheating working people out of their holidays. And ministers must not resurrect tribunal fees which stopped people enforcing their rights.”

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 someone working 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.

* Trades Union Congress https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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