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The BBC's Stephen Evans
"Employers often tell staff 'to like it or lump it'"
 real 56k

Monday, 4 September, 2000, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Thousands denied paid holidays
office
Some bosses threaten to sack staff who ask for leave
Thousands of workers are being refused their statutory entitlement to four weeks' paid holiday a year, according to Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Evidence gathered from 300 CAB offices across England, Wales and Northern Ireland shows that some people work for years without a proper break.

Many employees face a stark choice between accepting illegal conditions or being sacked.

The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux has called on the UK Government to set up a new employment rights enforcement body, with powers to investigate complaints and impose stiff penalties on law-breaking employers.

Redundancy threat

Tougher enforcement measures are needed to make sure all workers receive the legal minimum, the association said.

"Giving people the legal right to paid holiday was a significant advance, but our evidence shows the benefits have yet to be felt by some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK," said the association's chief executive, David Harker.

CAB report
The cases in the report are the tip of the iceberg
The association has published a report, entitled Wish You Were Here, based on 1,000 cases seen at bureaux around the country, over the past 18 months.

But Richard Dunstan of the CAB says this is a tiny fraction of the real number of workers affected.

"Our best estimate is that in the past 12 months CABs have seen over 75,000 workers aren't receiving their right to four weeks' paid holiday," he told the BBC.

Cases brought to CABs included a woman who never had a paid holiday in the five years she worked at a Midlands hairdresser's. When she raised her complaint with her employer, she was told there would have to be a redundancy if holidays were paid.

A care worker in a nursing home was told to leave her job when she asked her boss about paid holiday.

Excuses

Employers came up with a number of excuses, including wrongly telling part-time staff they did not qualify for holidays, or claiming they could not afford to give them time off.

The Department of Trade and Industry said it would study the report.

A spokeswoman said: "The legislation was carefully framed so that no-one can be sacked or face discrimination for asserting their rights to four weeks' paid holiday a year. We will be conducting our own research on this issue.

"The current evidence at our disposal suggests that workers have not been dissuaded from asserting their rights."

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