Tube deal could spark surge in holiday leave

Employers could face demands for ever shorter working hours following a deal that will give 52 days holiday a year to rail workers.

The deal struck between London Underground (LU) and the RMT union, means that station staff will have the equivalent of 43 per cent of the year off from work including rest days.

The deal takes an hour off the working week for station staff, bringing it down to 37.5 hours per week. In addition, two-and-a-half hours will be ‘banked’ and added to holiday entitlement, bringing the annual total to 52 – effectively delivering a 35-hour week.

RMT regional organiser, Bobby Law, told Personnel Today that the unions saw this deal as something that should become the industry standard. “We will be pushing for the same deal in all other train operating companies where we have members,” he said.

Research by Personnel Today’s sister publication IRS Employment Review shows that the new deal dwarfs the industry average holiday entitlement, which stands at 24 days a year. And it looks like it won’t stop with the rail industry.

The demand for more time off is something that will become increasingly important across business, according to Rory Murphy, deputy general secretary of the Amicus union.

“The demand for holidays is symptomatic of people’s wishes to have greater work-life balance,” he said. “Employers are beginning to realise we have the least holiday in Europe – people want more control of their time.”

The Aslef union has already demanded the RMT deal be extended to tube drivers as well as station staff, and the GMB union recently struck a deal with Shell to give exploration and production staff an extra two weeks leave from April 2005.

This shift towards more holiday is backed up by a survey of almost 2,000 UK staff by, who said more holidays would be the most attractive addition to their benefits package.

Beverley Shears, HR director at South West Trains, said that a shorter working week would be very expensive to business.


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