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How The New Employee Holiday Entitlement Laws Will Affect You

Nov 14, 2007
I've heard a lot of misconceptions about what the new UK employee holiday entitlement laws will involve, so here I shall do my best to explain who is affected, and what the changes to the law mean for businesses in the United Kingdom.

Firstly, before you (or your employees) go out and start celebrating, it should be pointed out that the laws, which increase the number of paid statutory holidays employees are entitled to from 20 to 24, are unlikely to be of much benefit to the vast majority of business workers. This is because the changes to the holiday entitlement law are mainly to tie up the loop hole that some employers were using which meant that the United Kingdom's 8 annual public holidays could come out of employee's paid holiday allowance. In 2009, the number is due to increase to 28 days to allow the standard 20 days minimum holiday entitlement in addition to the 8 public holidays for all workers in the United Kingdom.

So the good news for employers is that, unless you've been scrimping on paid holiday entitlement anyway, you won't need to change the way your business operates. So who will it affect? Well according to the Employment relations minister, Pat McFadden, around six million workers in the United Kindom. But where are they all?

Well, the majority of the United Kingdom's work force who are affected are likely to be found in sectors that are required to work bank holidays, namely hospitality, retail and service industries. Basically, the change to minimum holiday entitlement means that anyone who is currently failing to get the bare minimum of 24 days off (including bank holidays) will be given four more to play with by law, while those who already get 24 or more will see no change to their holiday entitlement, in all likelihood. But those who are expected to work bank holidays in those industries do have extra holiday to look forward to: their employers will have to provide 24 days holiday, rising to 28 in 2009. Having to give each employee this extra time is going to affect retail, hospitality and service industries a great deal and they may find themselves needing to hire extra members of staff to supply backup for when the existing workers take out their allocated holiday time.

I've heard a lot of the United Kingdom's workers are getting very excited about the changes to the employee holiday entitlement law, because of the commonly accepted urban myth that workers are guaranteed public holidays on top of their 20 day statutory paid holiday allowance. The truth is that there is nothing in the law about this, and employers who previously did give their workers additional bank holiday entitlement were either doing it as an act of good will, or were unaware that the law would have protected them until the 1st October. It really is great news for those estimated six million workers who currently don't get very much holiday, but the majority of the country is, sadly for them, unaffected.
About the Author
Iain Mackintosh is the managing director of Simply-Docs. The firm provides over 1100 legal document templates covering all aspects of business from the new holiday entitlement laws to health and safety regulations.
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