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New holiday entitlement for workers

14 January, 2008

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey, who is Chairperson of the Assembly Employment and Learning Committee has said that an increase in holiday entitlement for workers is essential to allow people to rest and refresh and spend time with their families and friends.

Ms Ramsey said:

"This legislation will have significant and positive impact on those workers in the North of Ireland who are paid at a lower rate and who currently have the most disadvantageous terms and conditions. In many instances, these workers have been required to offset time taken for bank and public holidays against their annual leave entitlement.

"During a time when the local economic future has been under extensive scrutiny via the draft budget and programme for government, it is vital that leave entitlement is considered and improved. People deserve and require appropriate leave arrangements.

"This should be seen as an integral part of a mature economy where workers are afforded time to rest and refresh and spend time with their families and friends.

"The Regulations also recognise business needs by providing for payment in lieu of the additional entitlement, or 'buy - out' in the transitional years 2007-08 and 2008-09. This should assist employers in implementing the new arrangements.

"However, I think it is important and appropriate that buy - out will not be permitted in future years. There would always be a temptation to offer this to workers if it was permitted and this would only serve to defeat the purpose of these important Regulations." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Working Time Regulations (NI) 1998 gave many workers in Northern Ireland a right to four weeks' paid holiday for the first time. The new Working Time (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2007 (S.R. 2007/340) will increase the statutory minimum holiday entitlement for workers from 4 weeks to 5.6 weeks per year. This will be equivalent to an increase by 8 days for those who work 5 days per week (pro-rata for part-time workers).

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