How much of your paid holiday is down to the EU?

Published: 2nd Jun 2016

In brief

Claim

The EU gives British workers the entitlement to 28 days' paid holiday.

Conclusion

The EU minimum is 20 days. The British government increased it to 28 to cover bank holidays.

 

Over 26 million workers are entitled to paid leave because of the EU, so there are almost 750 million days of paid holiday taken.

 

That’s the correct number of employees in the UK, but multiplying them by the number of paid holidays they’re entitled to doesn’t work and doesn’t produce a number that the EU alone can take credit for.

Claim 1 of 2

“[Because of the EU] over 26 million workers in Britain benefit from being entitled to 28 days of paid leave”

Jeremy Corbyn, 2 June 2016

The EU gives workers the right to 20 paid days off, but the UK government has increased the entitlement to 28.

The EU Working Time Directive, originally introduced in 1993, gives workers the right to “paid annual leave of at least four weeks”.

That was put into UK law in 1998. At the time, there was no right to a minimum number of paid days off, and the government had tried to stop the EU introducing one.

Now workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks, which translates to 28 days for someone working five days a week.

The increase was because some employers included bank holidays as part of the four week entitlement. The government increased the minimum by 1.6 weeks (i.e. eight days, the number of bank holidays in England and Wales) to make sure people got their four weeks off on top of bank holidays.

The figure of “over 26 million workers” being entitled to this paid leave is simply the number of employees in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In advance copies of Mr Corbyn's speech, Labour has multiplied this figure by 28 to say that UK workers are entitled to almost 750 million days of paid leave every year.

This doesn’t work, not least because not all of these people are employed full time, and so will take fewer than 28 days paid leave.

More fundamentally, the EU can’t take credit for all or even most of those days. As we’ve said, decisions of the UK government have increased the entitlement. And some workers would presumably be offered paid leave even if there were no legal entitlement, and presumably were in 1990s before the legal entitlement to it came in.

A legal expert has done some more factchecking on EU and employment rights.


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