31/07/2006

NI workers to get additional paid holidays

Local workers will have their paid leave entitlement raised by either eight or 10 days, the government has today revealed.

The proposals, which are being issued for consultation, will provide workers with the extra days in addition to their current statutory four weeks annual leave.

Providing for an extra eight days, would bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, where there are currently eight bank and public holidays, while an additional ten days would reflect the number in Northern Ireland.

They would also see the lowest paid, women, part-timers and those from ethnic minorities gaining the most.

Launching the consultation document, Minister for Employment and Learning, Maria Eagle, said: "When we gave everyone the right to four weeks annual leave in 1998 many workers got paid holidays for the very first time. There are still many people, particularly the lowest paid, who have to take bank and public holidays from their leave entitlement. These proposals will mean that those workers will receive additional paid holidays."

It is proposed that the additional leave will be phased in starting with an increase from 20 to 24 days (pro rata for part time workers) from October 1 2007 and in addition views are being sought on whether the rest of the leave should be introduced: In one stage, from October 2008; In one stage, from October 2009; In two phases, from October 2008 and October 2009.

The Minister stressed the importance of keeping workers motivated should not be underestimated and added: "Paid holiday leave is essential to allow people work life balance and a way to take time out for themselves. Many good businesses already offer more paid holiday than the statutory four weeks, recognising that it can help keep staff motivated and loyal to the company.

"I hope that employers, unions and individuals will take part in this consultation and give us their views so that we can work together to introduce this new right without placing unnecessary burdens on business."

The consultation period is due to close on October 19 2006.

(EF)

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