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Holiday Entitlement Rights for Employees

The information in this holiday entitlement section is useful for workers and employers. You can use the guide to check holiday pay rights and calculate leave entitlement.

PAID HOLIDAY: In most cases, everyone classed as workers gets a legal entitlement to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year.

Employers often refer to holiday entitlement as ‘annual leave’ or ‘statutory leave entitlement’. When calculating statutory holiday entitlement rights, employers:

  • Can include bank and public holidays as part of statutory annual leave.
  • Must not round down holiday entitlement (but can round it up).
  • Must provide holiday pay during the statutory leave.
  • May provide extra paid holiday (called ‘contractual leave entitlement’).

Part-Time Workers

Most part-time workers will receive less paid holiday than full-time workers. Part-time workers are also entitled to at least the 5.6 weeks of paid holiday. But, it will amount to less than 28 days because they will be working fewer hours each week.

Note: You can work out statutory holiday leave in hours or days on the government calculator.

Workers who Work 5 Days a Week

As a rule, workers who work a 5-day week must receive a minimum of 28 days’ paid annual leave per year. This equates to 5.6 weeks of holiday entitlement rights.

Working Irregular Hours

Anyone who works irregular hours can also use the same holiday entitlement calculator. It is a useful tool for shift workers or those who do term-time work.

Limits on Statutory Leave

There are upper limits on statutory leave. The statutory limit for paid holiday entitlement is 28 days. Thus, even workers who work 6 days a week are still only entitled to the restricted 28 days of holiday pay.

Contractual Leave Entitlement

Employers may choose to offer more leave to their workers than the legal minimum. As a rule, contractual leave entitlement should get written into an employment contract.

In this case, there would be no need to apply all the rules of statutory leave to the extra time off from work. For example, the continuous employment rules would not apply to become entitled to it.

Public and Bank Holidays

The UK bank holidays, or public holidays, do not have to count as paid leave. Employers can choose whether to include bank holidays in work statutory annual leave.

Additional Aspects of Holiday Entitlement UK

Being classed as a worker means you have the legal right to:

  • Receive holiday pay for leave taken off work.
  • Build up (accrue) holiday entitlement while sick and away from work.
  • Make a request for holidays at the same time as taking sick leave.
  • Accrue (build up) holiday entitlement during times of maternity, paternity, and adoption leave.
Statutory Holiday Entitlement Disputes

Under the UK laws of employment, all employers must provide paid annual leave to their staff. There are ways to solve a workplace dispute if a worker questions their rights to leave.

Holiday Pay Guide

Being classed as a worker means you get entitlement to one week’s pay for each week of leave taken. But, there are different ways of working out a week of pay. It depends on what hours someone works and how they get paid for those hours. The same rules that apply to full-time workers also apply to part-time and casual workers.

  • Fixed hours and fixed pay (part time or full time workers): A week of holiday pay equals how much a worker gets for a week of work.
  • Shift work with fixed hours (part time or full time workers): A week of 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 (i.e. casual work): A week of holiday pay is the average pay a worker got over the previous 12 weeks (in which they got paid).
Calculating Average Hourly Rate

Use only the hours worked and how much you got paid for them to calculate average hourly rate. You should take the average rate worked over the last 12 weeks.

What if no pay got paid in any week? In this case, keep counting back a further week until the rate gets based on 12 weeks in which you got paid.

Rolled Up Holiday Pay Acas Advice

Holiday pay should get paid for the time that annual leave gets taken. Employers cannot include an amount for holiday pay in the hourly rate. It’s known as ‘rolled-up holiday pay’. So, a current contract will need renegotiating if it still includes rolled-up holiday pay.

Expert Information about Holiday Entitlement Rules

There are several types of working arrangement and scenarios. You can contact Acas for further information about holiday pay entitlement UK.

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)
Telephone: 0300 123 11 00
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 9am to 1pm
Find out more on phone call charges.

Calculating Leave Entitlement

As soon as a worker starts working in a job their annual leave begins to build up or ‘accrue’. Employers will use either an ‘accrual’ system or a ‘leave year’ to calculate how much leave their staff get.

Note: The holiday entitlement calculator shows how to work out holiday pay and how much leave you should get or have left.

Statutory Leave Year

As a rule, your employer will inform you of the dates for the statutory leave year. This usually happens as soon as you start working. Often, it runs from the 1st of January to the 31st of December.

Once the statutory leave year gets set, workers must take their holidays during this time. If the dates do not get set out in an employment contract, it will start:

  • On the first day of a new job (if it started after the 1st of October 1998).
  • On the 1st of October (if the job began on or before the 1st of October 1998).

A leave year and your holiday entitlement does not get affected by maternity, paternity, or adoption leave. As an employee you still build up (accrue) your holiday time off during these periods.

Leave Entitlement when Starting a New Job

What happens if a worker starts a job part-way through a leave year? In this case, they would only have entitlement to part of their total annual leave for that year. The number of weeks or months remaining would determine how much holiday time they would get.

Carrying Over Leave Entitlement

As a rule, the contract informs workers how many days of leave they may carry over into the next year. Even so, the maximum is 8 days carried over for workers who get the full 28 days of leave.

Some employers allow a carry over of extra untaken leave days for workers who get more than 28 days of leave. Always check your employment contract or company handbook. Often, rules such as these also get written on an intranet site at some organisations.

It sometimes happens that a worker is unable to take all their leave entitlement. It can occur if they are already taking a different type (e.g. sick leave, maternity or parental leave). In this case, they can carry over some or all the untaken leave into the next leave year.

The Accrual System

An employer would usually use an accrual system to calculate leave for a worker in the first year of a job. Thus, a worker would get one twelfth of their allowable leave in each month under this system.

So by the end of the third month they would get one quarter of their total annual leave. That would be 7 days out of 28 for a 5-day week – for example.

Note: There are situations where employers must allow workers to carry over up to 20 of their 28 days of leave entitlement. It applies most if the worker was unable to take annual leave because they were off work sick.

Booking Statutory Holiday Entitlement UK

There is a general notice period for taking statutory holiday time off. The notice should be at least twice as long as the amount of leave a worker wants to take. Thus, you would need to give 2 days of advance notice for 1 day of leave. Exceptions will apply if an employment contract states different.

Employers have the right to refuse a request for leave. But, they must provide as much notice for the refusal as the amount requested. Thus, give 2 weeks of notice for a request of 2 weeks – for example.

Note: The law allows employers to refuse giving leave at a certain ‘busy’ times of the year. But, the law does not allow them to make a refusal of total time off that is due to their workers.

When You Can and Cannot Take Leave

There is a long list of employment laws for employers to follow, but in most cases they can:

  • Instruct their staff to take leave at specific times of the year (e.g. UK bank holidays or at Christmas time).
  • Restrict when their staff can take leave (e.g. during extreme busy periods of work).

These rules and restrictions are often written in a contract of employment. But, it may be the case of what usually happens for the industry or workplace you are in. Even so, the minimum notice period remains at twice as long as the leave they ask their staff to take.

Part Leave Days

In some situations, workers can take a part leave day (e.g. part-time workers). As a general rule, it is up to the employer how to manage part-days off from work by their staff.

Taking Annual Leave before Leaving a Job

What happens to employee holidays after handing in your notice at work? Workers can usually take any remaining statutory annual leave during their notice period. The amount you could take would depend on how much of the holiday year has already passed. The holiday entitlement calculator can help you work this out.

Getting Paid Instead of Taking Statutory Leave

There is only one time when a worker can get paid money in place of taking statutory leave. The process, called ‘payment in lieu‘, can only take place when a worker leaves their job. In this case, all employers must pay their staff for any untaken statutory leave. This rule applies even if a worker gets dismissed for gross misconduct.

What happens in situations where an employer offers more than the standard 5.6 weeks’ annual leave? In cases such as these, both parties can agree separate arrangements for the extra leave.

Taking More Leave than Entitlement

What if a worker takes more leave than they have entitlement for? As a rule, their employer must not take any money from their final pay. An exception would apply if a written agreement was already set up beforehand.

Note: Outline the rules for this type of situation in an employment contract or the company handbook.

Holiday Entitlement Rights for Employees in the United Kingdom