Study reveals illegal work practices are ‘far too common’

Research conducted by think tank Resolution Foundation has demonstrated a significant number of workers are being subjected to illegal labour practices.

This analysis, published as part of a three-year investigation into the enforcement of labour market rules, has showed the extent of illegal working practices in the UK. The study highlights that approximately one in 20 employees still do not receive paid holidays and one in 10 do not receive payslips. The figures also show that individuals over the age of 65 are the most likely to not have paid holidays, whilst those who are aged 25 or under are twice as likely to not be paid the minimum wage as any other age group. Furthermore, workers in smaller firms face a higher chance of not being given payslips and paid leave.

‘Labour market violations remain far too common,’ says Lindsay Judge, senior economic analyst for the Resolution Foundation. She goes on to comment that ‘the UK has a multitude of rules to govern its labour market, from maximum hours to maximum pay, but these rules can only become a reality if they are properly enforced’. Although Judge is complimentary towards the government’s actions in strengthening the resources of bodies such as HM Revenue and Customs to tackle the issue of underpayment in employment, she observes that many individuals most in need of help are the least likely to bring a claim to the employment tribunal. In response to the study, she calls on the government to ‘prioritise investigations into sectors like hotels and restaurants… as that’s where abuse is most prevalent’.


Organisations should remember that, since the abolition of tribunal fees in 2017, employment tribunal claims have continued to rise. Although not every employee may be prepared to go down this route, it is crucial to remember that it only takes one to bring a claim. It is therefore vital that organisations are aware of their legal obligations, including the provision of holiday pay and payslips, and ensure they are operating in line with the law.

Full-time employees and workers are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday per leave year, which is pro-rated for part-time employees. Furthermore, all employees and workers have the statutory right to receive a written itemised pay statement before or at the time of payment of wages or salary. The payslip should contain information that includes the gross amount of wages or salary, any amounts of variable or fixed deductions and the number of hours where pay varies depending on time worked.