Holiday entitlement

1. Entitlement

Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). An employer can include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.

Self-employed workers aren’t entitled to annual leave.

Working 5 days a week

Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive 28 days’ paid annual leave per year. This is calculated by multiplying a normal week (5 days) by the annual entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

Working part-time

Part-time workers are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year, although this may amount to fewer actual days of paid holiday than a full-time worker would get.

Example
A worker works 3 days a week. Their leave is calculated by multiplying 3 by 5.6, which comes to 16.8 days of annual paid leave.

Irregular hours

People working irregular hours - eg shift work or term-time work - need to calculate their leave entitlement for irregular hours.

Limits on statutory leave

Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. Staff working 6 days a week are only entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday and not 33.6 days (5.6 multiplied by 6).

Bank holidays

Bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave.

An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory annual leave.

Extra leave

An employer can choose to offer more leave than the legal minimum. They don’t have to apply all the rules that apply to statutory leave to the extra leave. For example, a worker might need to be employed for a certain amount of time before they become entitled to it.

Use the statutory leave calculator to work out a worker’s leave.

Other aspects of holiday entitlement

Workers have the right to:

  • get paid for leave
  • build up (‘accrue’) holiday entitlement during maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • build up holiday entitlement while off work sick
  • choose to take holiday at the same time as sick leave

Disputes

Paid annual leave is a legal right that an employer must provide. If a worker thinks their right to leave and pay are not being met there are a number of ways to resolve the dispute.

2. Holiday pay: the basics

Workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of leave they take.

A week’s pay is worked out according to the kind of hours someone works and how they’re paid for the hours. This includes full-time, part-time and casual workers.

Working pattern Pay
Fixed hours and fixed pay (part time or full time) A week’s holiday pay equals how much a worker gets for a week’s work (excluding non-guaranteed overtime payments in most cases)
Shift work with fixed hours (part time or full time) A week’s holiday pay equals the average number of weekly fixed hours a worker worked in the previous 12 weeks at their average hourly rate
No fixed hours (ie casual work) A week’s holiday pay is the average pay a worker got over the previous 12 weeks (in which they were paid)

Calculating average hourly rate

To calculate average hourly rate, only the hours worked and how much was paid for them should be counted. Take the average rate over the last 12 weeks. If no pay was paid in any week, count back a further week, so that the rate is based on 12 weeks in which pay was paid.

Rolled-up holiday pay

Holiday pay should be paid for the time when annual leave is taken. An employer cannot include an amount for holiday pay in the hourly rate (known as ‘rolled-up holiday pay’). If a current contract still includes rolled-up pay, it needs to be re-negotiated.

More information

This is a general guide and doesn’t cover every type of working arrangement or all scenarios. For specific information about your holiday pay entitlement, contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

Acas
Telephone: 0300 123 11 00
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm
Find out about call charges

3. Calculate leave entitlement

Annual leave begins to build up (‘accrue’) as soon as a worker starts their job.

An employer can use a ‘leave year’ or an ‘accrual’ system to work out how much leave their staff should get.

Leave year

An employer must usually tell their staff the dates of their statutory leave year as soon as they start working, eg it might run from 1 January to 31 December.

Workers must take their statutory leave during this time. If a leave year isn’t set out in a contract then it will start:

  • on the 1st day of a new job (if started after 1 October 1998)
  • on 1 October (if started on or before 1 October 1998)

The leave year and holiday entitlement is not affected by maternity, paternity or adoption leave. The employee still builds up (‘accrues’) holiday over these periods.

Leave entitlement when starting a new job

If a worker starts their job part-way through a leave year, they’re only entitled to part of their total annual leave for the current leave year. What they get depends on how much of the year is left.

Use the holiday entitlement calculator to work out how much leave someone has left.

Accrual system

An employer can use an accrual system to work out a worker’s leave during the first year of the job. Under this system, a worker gets one twelfth of their leave in each month. So by the third month they’d be entitled to a quarter of of their total leave, eg 7 days out of 28 for a 5-day week.

Carrying over leave

The worker’s contract says how many days’ leave they can carry over into the next year.

If a worker gets 28 days’ leave, they can carry over up to a maximum of 8 days.

If a worker gets more than 28 days’ leave, their employer may allow them to carry over any additional untaken leave. Check the employment contract, company handbook or intranet site to see what the rules say.

If a worker can’t take all of their leave entitlement because they’re already on a different type of leave (eg sick, maternity or parental leave), they can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next leave year.

An employer must allow a worker to carry over a maximum of 20 of their 28 days’ leave entitlement if the worker couldn’t take annual leave because they were off sick.

4. Booking time off

The general notice period for taking leave is at least twice as long as the amount of leave a worker wants to take (eg 2 days’ notice for 1 day’s leave), unless the contract says something different.

An employer can refuse a leave request but they must give as much notice as the amount of leave requested, eg 2 weeks’ notice if the leave requested was 2 weeks.

Although employers can refuse to give leave at a certain time, they can’t refuse to let workers take the leave at all.

Part leave days

Some workers may be entitled to a part leave day - eg if they’re part-time or have a half day’s leave to take. How a part-day should be taken is up to the employer.

When leave can and can’t be taken

Employers can:

  • tell their staff to take leave, eg bank holidays or Christmas
  • restrict when leave can be taken, eg at certain busy periods

There may be rules about this in the employment contract or it may be what normally happens in the workplace. The notice period for this is at least twice as long as the leave they want their staff to take.

5. Taking holiday before leaving a job

During their notice period the worker may be able to take whatever is left of their statutory annual leave.

Use the holiday entitlement calculator to work this out. How much they get depends on how much of the holiday year has passed.

Taking more leave than the entitlement

If a worker has taken more leave than they’re entitled to, their employer must not take money from their final pay unless it’s been agreed beforehand in writing. The rules in this situation should be outlined in the employment contract, company handbook or intranet site.

Getting paid instead of taking holidays

The only time someone can get paid in place of taking statutory leave (known as ‘payment in lieu’) is when they leave their job. Employers must pay for untaken statutory leave (even if the worker is dismissed for gross misconduct).

If an employer offers more than 5.6 weeks’ annual leave, they can agree separate arrangements for the extra leave.

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Source: gov.uk