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War Economy

Paid Annual Holidays

Paid Annual Holidays

The stresses of war did not prevent the Government from going ahead with one or two pieces of advanced labour legislation. For example, in April 1944, provision was made for a paid annual holiday of two weeks for all workers.2 Paid annual holidays, as of right, had been a live issue for over a decade before the war, and a number of private bills had been introduced, unsuccessfully, into the House of Representatives. The principle was included in the programme of the Labour Party, when it became the Government in 1935. Holiday provisions already existing for some industries were liberalised before labour became really scarce,3 but the 1944 extension, guaranteeing annual holidays for numerous new groups of workers, was carried out in spite of labour shortages created by wartime conditions. However, by April 1944, initiative was passing from the Japanese to the Allies; and armed forces strengths were being reduced. The Government no doubt thought this was a good time to continue its labour legislation. Measures to give workers more leisure would make it easier to employ returning servicemen. It must be remembered that few people at this stage expected the full employment conditions of war to carry through for very long into the post-war period.

A considerable number of workers had previously had paid annual holidays of varying duration. The Act assured at least two weeks for all. The rights of workers to the statutory holidays were not affected.

2 The Annual Holidays Act 1944, which came into force in August 1944.

3 For example, by the 1936 amendment to the Factories Act and by Section 17 of the Statutes Amendment Act 1938, as amended by Section 25 of the Statutes Amendment Act 1941.