Britain's 1.7m* temporary workers are at risk of not receiving their 5.6 weeks’ statutory holiday pay due to the unethical practices of certain umbrella companies, where clauses are added into the small print of their contracts.
When a business employs temporary workers via a recruitment agency or umbrella company, the rate paid to the agency includes an amount for the worker to receive their entitlement to paid time off.
Alarmingly, despite businesses being required to provide their temps with statutory holiday by law, it isn’t always passed on to the worker.
With this in mind, here are 5 important questions all temps should ask the umbrella companies they work for to ensure that they do receive their statutory holiday pay.
- Will my holiday be accrued? Accrued holiday is where the umbrella or recruitment agency puts the holiday funds to one side, in a virtual pot of money for you to draw on when you want to take holiday. Beware of this type of holiday arrangement, as if you forget to request your accrued holiday, you are at risk of losing it. The reason for this is that some umbrella companies and recruitment agencies have contractual small-print that enables them to retain unclaimed holiday after a certain deadline. If you request your accrued holiday pay after that deadline, there is no obligation for them to pay it. This dubious practice allows unscrupulous umbrellas and recruitment agencies to generate extra profits, potentially millions each year, at the expense of the temps they employ.
- Can I carry over any untaken holiday? If your holiday is going to be accrued, make sure you ask when the holiday year runs (i.e. what is the annual deadline for claiming your holiday), and also whether any unclaimed holiday can be carried over into the next holiday year.
- Will my holiday be rolled up? This method of receiving holiday means that your usual pay rate is increased to take account of the holiday that you are due. This means that there is no ‘pot’ of money to draw on when you want to take a break, so when you are on holiday you will not earn anything. Rolled up holiday contradicts the ‘working time directive’, which aims for all workers to have paid time off, so it should be an informed choice. On the plus side, this method does mean that you will always receive your holiday entitlement.
- Can I have a Key Information Document? By law, anyone obtaining work via a recruitment agency should receive a Key Information Document that outlines important details about their contract and how they will receive their holiday. So always make sure you request one. You might receive several Key Information Documents if you are choosing between a couple of different umbrella companies, so make sure you are comparing them on an equal basis.
- Can the terms of my contract be amended? The likely answer to this is no. But if your contractual small print includes the provision for your umbrella or agency to not pay you any unclaimed holiday then you could request that this be amended. Bear in mind, though, that it is probably easiest to simply choose a different umbrella company, one that gives you peace of mind that you will actually receive the holiday pay that you are due.
I've been subject to legal attempts to be silenced by an umbrella industry behemoth that did not like my social media posts about their holiday pay scam, which rips off temp workers. It is essential that temporary workers are empowered to ask the right questions so that they receive the holiday that they are rightfully due. The unethical practice of withholding holiday pay from temporary workers is not new, and while we can all agree that it is unethical, that moral standpoint won’t protect you from being victim to the small print. Make sure you ask the right questions to receive what you are rightfully due."