Issue date
27 Jul 2018

New TUC analysis published today (Friday) reveals that 1 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 £3bn worth of paid leave a year.
  • 9.2% of female workers and 7.2% of male workers are losing out.
  • The sectors in which workers are most likely to lose out are agriculture (14.9%), mining and quarrying (14.7%) and accommodation and food (13.9%).
  • 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.“

Editors note

Number of UK employees not getting legal entitlement in 2017 

Employees (000s)

% of employees

Men

1,000

7.2

Women

1,235

9.2

All employees

2,235

8.2

Source: LFS Q4 2017

Number of UK employees not getting legal entitlement in 2017 by sector

Industry

Employees (000s)

% of employees in the sector

Agriculture

27

14.9

Mining/quarry

17

14.7

Manufacturing

184

6.7

Water/sewage/waste

10

4.4

Construction

97

7.0

Wholesale/retail

348

8.8

Transport/storage

97

7.4

Accommodation/food

223

13.9

Information/communications

78

7.4

Finance/insurance

48

4.1

Real estate

17

5.7

Prof/scientific/ tech

110

6.0

Admin/support

135

11.0

Public admin/defence

66

3.3

Education

342

11.3

Health and social work

291

7.4

Arts/entertainment/recreation

70

10.6

Other services

68

11.1

Source: LFS Q4 2017

- The analysis used unpublished data from the ONS Labour Force Survey. The TUC can provide a note on the full methodology on request.

- 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 5-day week, with pro-rata entitlement for those who work less than 5 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 – NMW, 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.