Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Holidays without pay rise by 20% in four years

The number of people working without paid holidays has increased by almost a fifth since 1992, according to a Commons library analysis of Government figures.

Ian McCartney, Labour employment spokesman, yesterday used the analysis to condemn Government obstruction of the European working time directive, which would give employees the right to three weeks paid holiday each year.

"It is a disgrace that ministers are denying millions of people the right to a paid day off, whilst they enjoy a Christmas break themselves," he said. The Commons is on Christmas holidays until 13 January.

According to the Commons library analysis of the official Labour Force Survey, the number of people without paid holiday entitlement has risen from 1,975,000 to 2,358,000 since 1992, representing 10.7 per cent of the British workforce. If Northern Ireland is included, the overall proportion rises to just over 11 per cent.

Mr McCartney said that more than half of the 424,000 men working part- time get no paid holiday.

He said: "Far from being the party of the family, the Tories are preventing many families from spending a proper holiday together, simply because their bread winner is not entitled to paid time off. Not giving staff time off increases stress and damages performance at work." "Britons already work the longest hours in Europe, often for the lowest pay. Without a paid holiday, many people are forced to work not just anti-social hours, but on holidays as well, just to make ends meet. It's about time we all had a rest from this hypocritical Tory government and its sweat shop policies."

Following a ruling by the European Court, insisting on British implementation of the Working Time Directive, the Government is currently consulting business and industry before introducing legislation.

There is a suspicion at Westminster that the new law might be delayed until after the election, enabling the Conservatives to use it as a campaign weapon, arguing that Labour favours the job losses that would allegedly result from its introduction.

Labour Health spokeswoman Tessa Jowell yesterday issued a report showing the extent to which the Government has distanced itself from the management of the National Health Service - with details of 50 key areas that are no longer being monitored by Whitehall.

It is now commonplace for Stephen Dorrell, the Secretary of State for Health, to answer many factual Commons questions with the reply that the information requested is not held "centrally" by the Government.