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Get over embarrassment of holidays mistake

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

‘Get over embarrassment of holidays mistake and fix it’

The Easter holidays period has brought an avalanche of calls from employers about the Holidays Act, says David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

“We have fielded two and half times more inquiries about public holidays in the lead up to Easter this year than in previous years,” Mr Lowe said.

“In the two weeks before Easter this year we had 106 calls about public holidays compared to just 43 for Easter 2003, the most recent comparable period. We also responded to over 200 further calls about holiday entitlements in general in the same fortnight.

“The 2003 amendment to the Holidays Act has plainly failed to achieve the objective stated for it which was to provide ‘entitlements that are easy to understand and apply.’

“Adding to the confusion is that people think Easter Sunday is a public holiday because of trading restrictions, but it isn’t.

“Employees themselves are those most likely to miss out as a result of the muddle.

“Employees are unlikely to get their correct entitlements over Easter because every second person we talk to –employers and employees - has a different version of what they are.

“Nobody agrees on what employers’obligations are, or what employees are entitled to.

“The recent Heinz Wattie decision is a classic case of how badly the law is failing.
“In that the Labour Department’s own inspectors showed they don’t know what the law means, so what hope is there for smaller businesses making up the majority of employers?

“Businesses and employees will likely do what they’ve been doing for the past year and work out their own arrangements.

“Now would be a good time to get over the embarrassment of admitting to the Holiday Act mistake, and take another look at it, so it really does become easy to understand and apply.”


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