British workers will still receive fewer holidays than their EU neighbours even after new legislation has been introduced to give them better rights, it has been claimed.
Under a two-stage scheme, the minimum entitlement in the UK is to increase to 28 days by April 2009 as part of government moves to stop firms counting public holidays as part of workers' annual leave.
At the moment, employers are obliged to give staff at least 20 days off, but some firms include the eight bank holidays within this figure, meaning many workers are actually only getting 12 days' leave.
According to research carried out by Incomes Data Services (IDS), Germany tops the league for staff holidays, with workers getting 39 days off a year, including public holidays.
Workers in Austria have 38 days' annual leave entitlement and public holidays, 36 in Sweden, 35 in Slovakia, Luxembourg and France, 34 in Portugal, 33 in the Czech Republic and Slovenia, 32 in Italy, Spain and Greece and 31 in Poland and Finland.
Ken Mulkearn of IDS said: "The recent legislation is likely to have little impact on those employers who already offer 20 days' leave plus bank holidays.
"The new regulations are clearly aimed at preventing the practice of including the current eight bank holidays in the minimum entitlement, whereby some employees effectively got just 12 days' annual leave."
IDS said that even after the changes, the UK will still be joint bottom of the EU league table for holidays with the Netherlands.