Holiday pay
"Votting to leave the EU risks the paid holidays of millions"iStock

More than seven million people across the UK could see their holiday pay slashed if the British electorate back a 'leave' vote at the EU referendum, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned. The organisation estimated that one in four workers (7.4 million) benefit from extra paid holiday under EU laws.

But the pro-EU trade union federation, which represents more than six million people, warned the Conservative government would be able to decide whether or not to keep protections in the event of a Brexit after the 23 June ballot.

"Millions of working people enjoyed paid holidays in their job for the first time thanks to the rights we won from Europe. And millions more got extra time off to spend with their children and their friends, go away with the family or simply have a well earned break," said Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the TUC.

"Decent amounts of holiday pay for all is a relatively recent win, fought for by generations of trade unionists and guaranteed by the EU. We can't take it for granted.

"But voting to leave the EU risks the paid holidays of millions. We know that some of the biggest cheerleaders for Brexit see protections for ordinary British workers – like paid holiday – as just red tape to be binned. And we know that bad bosses are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of being able to cut workers' hard-won entitlements."

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But the TUC has been accused of "scaremongering" by Grassroots Out, one of the groups vying for the Electoral Commission's official 'leave' campaign designation. Labour MP and former minister Kate Hoey said she was disappointed by the TUC's comments.

"Many Labour supporters and members of the trade union movement understand the anti-democratic EU does not seek to promote a social Europe that works for ordinary people, but merely protects cosy cartels and the interests of giant multinational corporations," Hoey added.

"The idea that holiday pay will be put at risk by the UK leaving the EU is scaremongering of the highest order. No existing contracts will be affected. The UK has consistently been European leaders with regard to improving workers' pay and conditions and this will not change whether we remain or leave."

Latest EU referendum opinion polls

DatePollsterRemainLeaveUndecidedMethod
29 Mar-4 AprYouGov39%38%18%Online
1 Apr–3 AprICM44%43%13%Online
29 Mar–3 AprOBR51%44%5%Telephone
29 Mar - 1 AprOpinium39%42%18%Online
24-29 MarTNS35%35%30%Online
24-29 MarBMG Research41%45%14%Online

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