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TUC calls for three more bank holidays a year

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Britain's workers not only get the least statutory annual leave in Europe but have to manage on the lowest number of bank holidays as well, according to a TUC report released today (Friday).

Banking on your holiday? says British workers enjoy only eight bank holidays a year compared to 12 in Italy, 13 in Austria and up to 14 in Spain and Portugal. And unlike their European counterparts, British workers do not have a legal right to take these bank holidays, but have to rely on the generosity of their employers.

The TUC is calling on Government to review bank holiday entitlement and to give British workers an extra three days every year.

Banking on your holiday? shows:

  • Britain and the Netherlands have the least public holidays amongst EU countries. But Dutch workers have the right to be paid for their public holidays.
  • the UK is bottom of the European league on annual holidays too – combining statutory public holidays (those where workers have the right by law to time off) and statutory annual leave puts the UK 13 days behind the EU average.
  • a loophole in the UK Working Time Directive regulations means employers can count bank holidays as part of the 20 day annual leave entitlement leaving some UK employees, in theory with only 12 days annual leave after bank holidays. Figures suggest hairdressers and beauticians are most likely to lose out in this way.
  • There is no statutory right for UK employees to take public holidays, or to be paid for taking them. Almost one in five UK employees are not paid for taking public holidays as time off.
  • In the UK, workers have no statutory rights to bank holidays, having to rely instead on the generosity of their employers. Whilst this is the case with some of the European bank holidays, the majority are statutory days which employees are entitled, by law, to take.
  • Most EU countries have a minimum standard of compensation for working on public holidays, usually a choice of a premium rate or time off in lieu. But UK employees don't have this.
  • When it comes to holiday entitlement, British workers are better off in a union. The average trade union member gets 29 days a year compared to 23 days for non-union members.

The TUC says employment rights legislation should support public holidays, arguing that:

  • it must be made clear that public holidays are not part of the annual leave entitlement in the Working Time Directive (20 days a year)
  • Employees must be paid for taking public holidays with an option to be paid at a premium rate or be paid at the normal rate and given an extra days paid leave for working on public holidays.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "This report shows that again British workers have been put at the bottom of the EU pile. But they need proper time off work as much as their European colleagues.

"UK workers have the shortest holidays and the lowest productivity in Northern Europe. So offering more holidays makes sense for employers too – happier workers are more productive."

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