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Half of people on zero hours contracts think they’re not entitled to paid holiday, says Citizens Advice

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

The charity is calling on the next government to ensure workers are aware of, and are able to take, the paid holiday that 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 - with 10,000 cases specifically about paid holiday. 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 over 5 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 of £8,900.

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

Separate research finds that between a third and half of employers use fixed term or temporary workers and more than half (57%) of employers use variable hours or shift work.

Citizens Advice is calling on the next government to:

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

  • Place a £50 cap on Employment Tribunal fees so that people who are treated unfairly by their employer aren’t 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.

“There’s 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 that can tackle employers that 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.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.
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