Business

Zero hours workers are 'missing out on paid holidays'

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Thousands of workers on zero hours contracts miss out on paid holiday because they are lied to or do not know their rights, it has been claimed.

Citizens Advice says that half of those on a zero hours basis - more than 900,000 people - are not aware of their holiday benefits.

The charity said bosses are either ignorant of workers' rights, or are "deliberately flouting the law".

It is calling on the next government to step in to help protect workers.

Based on the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, Citizens Advice also says that two out of five people on temporary contracts do not know they can take paid time off.

Zero hours contracts allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work. Unlike the so-called "gig economy", where people are paid on a job-by-job basis, those on zero hours contracts are entitled to basic rights such as rest breaks, the National Minimum Wage and paid leave.

Citizens Advice said that while some employers mislead employees about holiday entitlement due to the ignorance of bosses, others purposefully flout the law and exploit workers' confusion.

'Dirty tactics'

It cites an example of one man who worked 48 hours a week in a care home for five years. He was told that staff who worked at night did not get paid holiday. He subsequently discovered he had missed out on £8,900 worth of paid leave.

Of the 185,000 people who sought help from Citizens Advice in the last financial year, 10,000 were cases about holiday.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "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."

Citizens Advice wants a single body set up to oversee enforcement of all employment rights and a £50 cap on employment tribunal fees.

Sports Direct came under fire last year for its working conditions, including at its Shirebrook distribution centre. While the retailer announced that people who work in its shops will be moved onto guaranteed hours, those in the distribution centre will remain on zero hours contracts.

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