Empowering the Freelance Economy

Holiday entitlement consultation: every temp worker in the UK has a right to not be ripped off

Julia Kermode of IWORK says temp workers deserve to receive their holiday pay entitlement.
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OPINION

By Julia Kermode, IWORK

The government’s Holiday Entitlement Consultation closes today. I feel addressing this matter is the “only way” to guarantee that temporary workers receive what’s rightfully theirs in holiday pay. 

The government has been urged to end the stigma that surrounds rolled-up holiday pay, which leads to hundreds of millions of pounds of holiday pay going unclaimed every year. 

If holiday pay is rolled-up, it’s paid at the same time as normal pay – as opposed to being paid when the worker takes holiday. 

In the consultation, stakeholders were invited to share opinions on proposed changes to how holiday entitlement is calculated for part-time and irregular-hours workers, as the government looks to simplify the process.

It’s seen as unlawful due to a European court ruling, which is totally out of step with the real world. Some argue that paying workers for their holiday on top of wages is a disincentive for them to take a paid break. I’d argue that at least it ensures they receive what’s rightfully theirs.

Launched in light of a Supreme Court judgment in July 2022, the landmark Harpur Trust v Brazel case, the government invited opinions on using a simplified 12.07% method to calculate holiday entitlement for temporary workers. This method was the previously accepted custom and practice until last year’s judgment which concluded it should no longer be used.   

All too often we see unscrupulous umbrella companies and recruitment agencies retain unclaimed holiday pay from their workers. These are hardworking people who very often don’t even realise they’re entitled to holiday pay – let alone receive clear instructions to claim it.

It’s time to end the stigma and stop workers from being ripped off

In addition to calling on the government to “press on” with the proposal, I feel it’s time to end the stigma surrounding rolled-up holiday pay. It’s seen as unlawful due to a European court ruling, which is totally out of step with the real world. Some argue that paying workers for their holiday on top of wages is a disincentive for them to take a paid break. I’d argue that at least it ensures they receive what’s rightfully theirs.

All too often we see unscrupulous umbrella companies and recruitment agencies retain unclaimed holiday pay from their workers. These are hardworking people who very often don’t even realise they’re entitled to holiday pay – let alone receive clear instructions to claim it.

Kudos to the government for launching this consultation and recognising that holiday needs to be simplified. But policymakers are missing a trick. Holiday doesn’t just need simplifying – it needs to be made fair, too. This needs to be made crystal clear by the government, despite what the European court says. Every temp should have the right to decide how and when they receive their holiday and stop being ripped off.

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