Plans to ensure that workers get to take paid leave for bank holidays in addition to the statutory four weeks annual leave, were set out in a Government consultation yesterday.

The Government says the proposals mean that up to two million of the lowest paid stand to benefit from additional leave, with women, part-timers and those from ethnic minorities likely to gain the most.

Employment Relations Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "Paid holiday leave is essential to allow people work life balance and a way to take time out for themselves. Many good businesses already offer more paid holiday than the statutory four weeks, recognising that it can help keep staff motivated and loyal to the company."

The Government introduced the right to 20 days' paid annual leave in 1998. It proposes to phase in the additional leave starting with an increase from 20 to 24 days (pro rata for part time workers) from 1st October 2007.

The consultation closes on 22nd September 2006.