Holiday pay and zero hours contracts

Picture by PA Wire
Picture by PA Wire

Half of the people on zero hours contracts, and two in five people on temporary contracts, wrongly believe they are not entitled to paid holidays, the Citizens Advice service has revealed.

The charity is calling on the next Government to ensure that workers are aware of, and are able to take, the paid holiday they are entitled to.

Citizens Advice found that while some employers are misleading employees about holiday entitlement due to bosses’ ignorance, others are deliberately flouting the law and are exploiting workers’ confusion.

In the last financial year, almost 185,000 people got help from Citizens Advice on employment issues.

And 10,000 cases were specifically about paid holiday entitlement.

Over the same period, the Citizens Advice webpage on paid holiday had 260,000 visitors.

One man Citizens Advice helped has worked in a care home for more than five years, working 48 hours a week.

His employer had previously told him that night workers are not entitled to paid holiday, and he had never questioned this until recently.

When he visited Citizens Advice it was calculated that he has incorrectly missed out on paid holiday amounting to £8,900.

Elsewhere, a woman who worked in the sales sector was told she could only take holiday time if she met her sales targets, which is unlawful.

Separate research has revealed that between a third and half of employers use fixed term or temporary workers, and more than half – 57 per cent – of employers use variable hours or shift work.

Citizens Advice is calling on the next Government to take a series of actions as follows.

• Combine the enforcement of employment rights into one powerful Fair Work Authority that can tackle employers who break the rules.

• Place a £50 cap on employment tribunal fees so that people who believe they have been treated unfairly by their employer are not denied access to justice.

• Define self-employment in law to prevent exploitative employers restricting people’s rights, including access to the minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Half of people on zero hours contracts, and many on temporary contracts, think they are not entitled to paid holiday.

“Thousands are missing out on rights they are entitled to due to a lack of awareness, confusion, and in some cases, deliberate dirty tactics by employers.

“With more than half of employers having staff working shifts or variable hours, action needs to be taken now to protect workers rights.”

She added: “There has been welcome attention from political parties on issues surrounding rights at work, and we hope that the next Government takes steps to make people’s jobs and income more secure.

“Citizens Advice is calling for all employment rights enforcement to be brought into one Fair Work Authority, which can tackle employers who break the rules.

“We also want to see a £50 cap on employment tribunal fees so that people who are treated unfairly by their employer aren’t priced out of justice.”

For advice and further information from Citizens Advice Northumberland on employment rights or other problems call 0344 111 444, Monday to Friday, between 10am and 4pm.

People can also look at the Citizens Advice website for details of opening times of local offices and to get online advice and information.

Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/northumberland

Citizens Advice Northumberland provides free, confidential and impartial advice, and campaigns on big issues affecting people’s lives.

Its goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problems they face.

It is an independent charity and part of the national Citizens Advice network.