1.7 million people missing out on their paid holidays, says TUC

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30 July 2015

New figures published today (Thursday) by the TUC indicate that 1,669,000 employees are missing out on their minimum legal entitlement to paid holidays.

The TUC’s analysis of unpublished figures from the 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that on average 6.4 per cent of employees across the UK are losing out on their holiday rights.

In Northern Ireland this figure rises to 9.5 per cent and in Wales it is 7.6 per cent. English regions most affected are London (7.5 per cent) and the West Midlands (6.9 per cent). In contrast, the figure for the North East of England is 5.1 per cent and for Scotland it is 5.2 per cent.

In terms of job sectors, the greatest concentration of missed holiday entitlements is found in arts and entertainment (13.9 per cent), accommodation and food (12.5 per cent), administration and support services (9.2 per cent) and construction (8.1 per cent). In contrast, the figure for the finance and insurance sector is only 1.9 per cent and for public administration and defence it is only 2.8 per cent.

In November 1998 the introduction of the EU Working Time Directive extended the right to paid leave to all workers for the first time. Up to six million workers in the UK, who had less leave than the minimum standard of four weeks, benefitted from the new Working Time Directive holiday allowance. Entitlement in the UK was increased in 2007 and 2009 following a campaign by the TUC that showed many workers were forced to use paid leave on bank holidays.

The TUC warns that it has become easier for bad employers to get away with denying workers their full holiday pay since employment tribunal fees were introduced. The TUC also argues that rather than putting the entire onus on the worker, HM Revenue and Customs should also enforce holiday.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“As people head off on their holidays, spare a thought for those still stuck at work with bad bosses who break the law by denying staff their full holiday.

“Some employers deliberately stop staff from taking the leave and holiday pay they’re entitled to, whereas other workers lose out from poor management and failure to keep up with the law.

“Workers should not be cheated out of their holidays through illegal and unfair practices by employers. We are in danger of seeing a burnout Britain where workers feel pressured to give up their holidays and increase their hours. Workers who are worried about not getting their holiday entitlements should join a union, so that their voice is heard and their interests are properly represented.

“We are worried that David Cameron’s EU renegotiation may take away our statutory holiday entitlements by opting-out of the Working Time Directive. These figures on the number of people missing out on their holiday rights clearly show that the rules need to be strengthened rather than weakened further.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The LFS is a survey of 100,000 people in 60,000 households conducted by the Office of National Statistics on a quarterly basis. The question on holidays in the LFS is: “How many days of paid holiday are you entitled to per year – please exclude public holidays.”

- In the UK the minimum legal holiday entitlement for an employee working five days per week is 5.6 weeks per year (the equivalent of five weeks and three days and includes bank holidays). This minimum legal standard is pro-rata for employees working less than five days per week.

- Details of the TUC’s methodology for calculating the number of people missing out on their holiday rights is available here: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Holiday-pay-methodology.pdf

Number of employees missing out on paid holidays by nation and region

Nation/ region

Total number of employees

Per cent of employees

North East

54,312

5.1%

North West

154,777

5.5%

Yorkshire and The Humber

126,335

5.8%

East Midlands

109,356

5.6%

West Midlands

156,854

6.9%

Eastern England

163,875

6.5%

London

262,740

7.5%

South East

241,178

6.6%

South West

128,996

6.0%

Wales

88,580

7.6%

Scotland

118,379

5.2%

Northern Ireland

65,226

9.5%

UK Total

1,668,676

6.4%

Source: LFS (Oct–Dec 2014)

Number of employees missing out on paid holidays by industry

Industries

Total number of employees in industry

Per cent of employees in industry

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

13,079

8.3%

Mining and quarrying

14,646

10.8%

Manufacturing

145,380

5.1%

Water supply, sewerage and waste

13,313

6.7%

Construction

110,054

8.1%

Wholesale, retail, repair of vehicles

255,917

6.9%

Transport and storage

67,546

5.5%

Accommodation and food

181,185

12.5%

Information and communications

59,262

5.8%

Financial and insurance activities

21,051

1.9%

Real estate activities

21,147

7.9%

Prof, scientific, technical activities

92,304

5.9%

Admin and support services

105,245

9.2%

Public admin and defence

49,925

2.8%

Education

146,068

4.9%

Health and social work

197,000

5.2%

Arts, entertainment and recreation

86,786

13.9%

Other service activities

63,437

11.7%

Households as employers

14,016

36.4%

UK Total

1,668,676

6.4%

Source: LFS (Oct–Dec 2014)

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