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Issue date
  • Workers missing out on £3.1bn of paid leave each year
  • Over a million workers getting no paid leave at all
  • More people taking holiday pay claims to tribunal since fees abolished

New TUC analysis published today (Monday) reveals that 1 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%) are worse affected than men (5.9%).
  • 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 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.”

Editors note

- TUC affiliate UNISON scored a legal victory at the Supreme Court and overturned tribunal fees: https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2017/07/tribunal-fees-victory/

Number of employees getting too few holidays:

Too few holidays

% of workers

All employees

1,960,000

7.1

Female

1,136,000

8.3

Male

823,000

5.9

Source: LFS Q4 2018

Regional breakdown - employees with too few holidays

Regions

Too few hols

% of workers

North East

78,000

7.2

North West

167,000

5.6

Yorkshire and Humber

148,000

6.7

East Midlands

151,000

7.4

West Midlands

174,000

7.4

Eastern

201,000

7.7

London

288,000

7.5

South East

277,000

7.2

South West

166,000

7.1

Wales

93,000

7.1

Scotland

149,000

6.3

Northern Ireland

66,000

9.2

UK

1,960,000

7.1

Source: LFS Q4 2018

- 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.”

- The TUC believes that all workers should have their holiday rights guaranteed. This means using a system of supplementing the employment tribunal enforcement route with a proactive enforcement body. This is the model that the government uses for enforcing the flagship National Living Wage. We argue that working peoples holiday entitlements are just as important.

- British workers put in more than £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year – to see our release on this follow this link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/workers-uk-put-more-%C2%A332-billion-worth-unpaid-overtime-last-year-tuc-analysis

- Congress 2019 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 8 September to Wednesday 11 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/applying-media-or-external-visitor-credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Tuesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Brighton and will cost £75 +VAT.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.