New figures published by the TUC indicate that 156,854 people in the West Midlands are missing out on their minimum legal entitlement to paid holidays. The TUC’s analysis of unpublished figures from the 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that 1,669,000 employees across the UK are losing out on their holiday rights, an average of 6.4 per cent.

The West Midlands is the second most affected English region (after London) with 6.9 per cent of employees missing out on paid holidays. Northern Ireland (9.5 per cent) and Wales (7.6 per cent) are also well above the UK average. In contrast, the figure for the North East of England is 5.1 per cent and for Scotland it is 5.2 per cent.

In terms of job sectors, the greatest concentration of missed holiday entitlements is found in arts and entertainment (13.9 per cent), accommodation and food (12.5 per cent), administration and support services (9.2 per cent) and construction (8.1 per cent). In contrast, the figure for the finance and insurance sector is only 1.9 per cent and for public administration and defence it is only 2.8 per cent.

In November 1998 the introduction of the EU Working Time Directive extended the right to paid leave to all workers for the first time. Up to six million workers in the UK who had less leave than the minimum standard of four weeks benefitted from the new Working Time Directive holiday entitlements. Entitlement in the UK was increased in 2007 and 2009 following a campaign by the TUC that showed many workers were forced to use paid leave on bank holidays.

The TUC warns that it has become easier for bad employers to get away with denying workers their full holiday pay since employment tribunal fees were introduced. The TUC also argues that rather than putting the entire onus on the worker, HM Revenue and Customs should also enforce holiday pay.

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Lee Barron said:

“As people head off on their holidays, spare a thought for those still stuck at work with bad bosses who break the law by denying staff their full holiday.

“Some employers deliberately stop staff from taking the leave and holiday pay they’re entitled to, whereas other workers lose out from poor management and failure to keep up with the law.

“Workers should not be cheated out of their holidays through illegal and unfair practices by employers. We are in danger of seeing a burnout Britain where workers feel pressured to give up their holidays and increase their hours.

“We are worried that David Cameron’s EU renegotiation may take away our statutory holiday entitlements by opting-out of the Working Time Directive. These figures on the number of people missing out on their holiday rights clearly show that the rules need to be strengthened rather than weakened further.”