Retailers' leaders have

welcomed a move by the government to string out plans to give workers longer holiday entitlements.

Ministers had planned to increase the legal minimum annual leave from the

current 20 days to 28 in two stages, adding four days from this October and a further four from October 2008.

But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) lobbied for more time for employers to prepare for the regime - and this week the Department of Trade and Industry agreed. Holiday entitlement will still be increased to 24 days from October, but the full 28-day entitlement will not kick in until April 2009.

"This is not about

denying staff leave," said BRC director general Kevin Hawkins. "The problem is the speed at which the government has been trying to bring in the new rights. Retailers haven't been able to make preparations.

"Now retailers already offering 24 days of annual leave - the majority - have until April 2009 to prepare for the changes."

The BRC has also welcomed news that the government will delay a ban on employees from working on any of their legal minimum leave days. This stipulation will come into effect in April 2009, instead of this October, giving retailers time to adapt to the rules.