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Appeal for Government to clarify holiday pay for shift workers

Appeal for Government to clarify holiday pay for shift workers

One third of Britain’s workforce may be missing out on their holiday entitlement 

  • Almost six months on, the Government has not yet responded to its consultation on calculating holiday entitlement for part-year and irregular-hours workers
  • New research shows more than a third of shift workers are not sure about their legal entitlement to paid annual leave
  • Care workers could be missing out most, followed by hospitality and retail staff
  • 70% of shift workers have no money left over after meeting basic living costs and one in five are working two or more jobs to make ends meet 

Monday 4th September, LONDON - Shift workers who help to keep the country going are regularly missing out on their annual leave. Hard working staff in care homes, hospitality and retail are unaware of their paid holiday entitlement. 

This is further confused by a government consultation six months ago which looked at calculating holiday entitlement for part time and irregular work hours and, so far, has failed to reveal its conclusion. 

On the back of research of almost 4000 shift workers by Deputy, the leading shift work platform is calling for the government to provide clarity around its consultation. 

More than a third (34%) of shift workers are unsure about their legal entitlement for paid annual leave and could be missing out on important holiday pay.

The study revealed that 26% of UK workers are not clear on the details of their legal entitlements for paid annual leave and 8% have no idea at all. Only half were very confident that they are getting all the paid annual leave they are entitled to and, shockingly, 3% believe they’re not entitled to any paid leave. This is even higher for younger workers, with 14% of Gen Z workers thinking they have no paid holidays.

Women are less clear on their holiday entitlement than men (46% of women are not sure compared to 25% of men). Just over a third of women (36%) have an idea but don’t know the details and one in 10 female shift workers have no idea at all and are a key part of the UK workforce who could be missing out on their holiday allowance. 

In terms of the professions; those working in care are the least sure (38%), followed by hospitality (35%) and retail with 26% of workers not knowing their legal entitlements. 

When asked what workers would like to see from their employers, almost one quarter requested paid annual leave (22%). This was seventh in a list of what they would like to see to improve their quality of life with the top request being better pay (46%). Shockingly, almost three quarters (70%) of this core group of workers say they aren’t paid enough to have any money left over after meeting their basic living costs and one in five of UK shift workers have more than one job with different employers to try to make ends meet. 

The Government consultation earlier this year was launched in response to the Harpur Trust v Brazel Supreme Court Judgment in July 2022. The holiday pay calculation set out by the Supreme Court was ‘average weekly pay from the previous 52 weeks, excluding weeks not worked, multiplied by 5.6 weeks’. This meant that up to 700k workers would be entitled to increased holiday entitlement. However, this causes issues depending on the type of contract a worker may have, and employers have found the guidance too vague as it is unfair for those working the same hours but in a different pattern. For example, a part-year employee working 30 hours every other week would earn twice as much holiday pay as a similar employee working 15 hours every week, despite the fact they work the same total hours.

Jon Wilson, SVP at Deputy, said: “Our State of Shift Work report highlights the high levels of confusion that exist when it comes to holiday pay. The practical implementation of the Harpur Trust v Brazel ruling has been challenging for employers across the country and the government consultation was supposed to clarify things. In the meantime workers are going without holidays and employers are at risk of tribunal claims. We are trying to help by building in holiday pay calculators into our technology, which solves the practical, administrative challenges, but we urgently need clarity from the Government for the sake of both workers and employers.” 

To see the full State of Shift Work report from Deputy click here or download below:

State of Shift Work Report UK (2023) SoSW_report_UK_2023.pdf - 4 MB

About Deputy

Deputy is building technology to address global challenges experienced by scheduled employees and the industries they work in. Deputy’s platform bridges technology and communications gaps between frontline teams and decision-makers, enabling people to control their schedules, collaborate intuitively, and plan their lives outside work. 

Deputy strengthens employer-employee relations and revolutionises how scheduled workers and businesses operate together, creating thriving workplaces in every community. Over 300,000 workplaces use Deputy to improve work-life experiences for 1.4 million scheduled workers globally. 

Visit, or find us on Twitter, Facebook, the App Store or Google Play for more information.

The State of Shift Work

The survey is based on responses from 3,809 shift workers from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom (1166), and the United States in the retail, healthcare and hospitality industry sectors.

Deputy partners with market research firm Dimensional Research to conduct its global State of Shift Work Survey annually. This survey was conducted between May 26 – June 26, 2023. Half of the respondents were Deputy users, and the other half were not. 

Participants were invited to participate in an online survey. Various questions were asked on topics including job satisfaction, scheduling practices, wages, well-being, and technology in the workplace. Certain questions were repeated from similar 2020 and 2021 surveys to enable trend analysis.​

The primary goal was to capture insights from this community of workers to understand trends and better understand their work-life experiences and overall job satisfaction.




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