Holiday rights 'worst in EU'

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The Independent Online
Labour today stepped up its demand for improved rights to paid holidays after a survey showed Britain lagging behind its European neighbours.

British workers are alone in Europe in having no legal right to paid holidays, according to a study by Professor Francis Green of Leeds University School of Business and Economic Studies.

Michael Meacher, Labour's employment spokesman, urged the Government to end its opposition to the European Directive on Working Time, which would guarantee a minimum of three weeks' holiday to all qualifying employees. A total of 1.75 million employees, two-thirds of whom were in the distribution, hotel, catering and other services, would benefit, he said.

He urged the Government to drop its opposition to the directive, which was agreed by a majority of member states two years ago. Britain's case is due to be heard in the European Court early next year.

Professor Green's study, Union Recognition and Paid Holiday Entitlement, shows:

t One in nine workers in Britain gets no paid holiday;

t Unionised workers receive a total of 4.5 days more holiday on average than non-unionised employees;

t Part-time and temporary workers and those working in small establishments are most likely to be denied paid holidays.

Mr Meacher said: "This excellent new study shows quite conclusively that Britain is stuck at the bottom of the European league when it comes to paid holidays.

"It is about time the Tories abandoned the myth that employment rights destroy jobs. On the contrary, job insecurity and exploitation does terrible damage to our economy.

"Labour believes British workers should be at the top of the European league when it comes to employment rights."