HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 c558
16. Helen Jones (Warrington, North)

What assessment he has made of the number of people entitled to annual leave as a result of the working time directive. [86509]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Ian McCartney)

The entitlement to paid annual leave is available to all workers, apart from those in sectors currently excluded from the working time directive—namely, those involved in transport, sea fishing, and other work at sea and doctors in training. When the regulations came into force on 1 October 1998, it was anticipated that 2.5 million workers would benefit for the first time from an entitlement to leave.

Helen Jones

One key to implementing the working time directive fully will be to ensure that people are fully aware of their entitlements. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to see that people know what the directive entitles them to? In view of his earlier remarks, will he reassure my constituents that they will not be forced to spend their annual leave in the company of the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess)?

Mr. McCartney

I defend the landladies of Southend. I have visited Southend on numerous occasions and I would welcome the opportunity to have a few days off and a break there. Unfortunately, Ministers are not covered by the working time directive.

As with the national minimum wage, we have put £1 million into a campaign to supply information and help to businesses and employees respectively on how to implement the working time directive and get holiday pay. We have also provided workers for the first time ever with protection against being sacked or disciplined for claiming their right to paid holiday leave. We have also provided special protection for young and night workers. It is interesting to note that, other than a few Tory Arthur Daley-style employers, employers in Britain back this proposal for good minimum standards because it means that workers will be more committed to their enterprise, will stay with it and will help to make it successful.