Can I Have a Holiday?

holiday entitlementUnder the 1998 Working Time Regulations every UK worker is currently entitled a period of paid annual leave. If you are a manager then it is your responsibility to ensure that this can happen without the work output of the rest of your team or department suffering. Without holidays your people can become stale and less effective.

It is important that you know the statutory entitlements. Currently this is 5.6 weeks per year for all UK employees working full time. If you work this out it is 28 days for an employee who works five days a week. The annual entitlement of 5.6 weeks can include the (usually) eight UK bank holidays.

Annual leave entitlement for an employee who works part time is determined on a pro-rata basis in comparison to a full time worker, but an employee who usually works 6 days a week does not automatically get annual leave in excess of these 28 days.

If a new employee starts work at any other time except the start of the business year, then they will only be entitled to annual leave for that particular year in proportion with the period of the year that is left.

Annual leave is accrued at the rate of 1/12th of the total yearly entitlement per calendar month. During an employee’s first year of employment the amount of annual leave that they can take at any time is limited to the amount that they have accrued at the time they want to take it minus any they have already taken.

Annual leave starts to accrue from the beginning of the employment contract and continues to accrue throughout its duration. This means that even employees working their notice period will continue to accumulate their annual leave entitlement.

If an employee is away from work, for example for periods of maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave, then they still accrue holiday entitlement during these absences.

Employees also accrue leave during periods of sickness. This was established by European case law and means that an employee who has is absent for an entire year because of an illness maintains their right to that year’s annual leave.

A common question from many managers is can my employees carry over their annual leave?

In law every employee must take at least four weeks of statutory leave during the year but, based on their employer’s discretion, they may be able to carry over any remaining holidays in excess of the 4 weeks.

There are, however, very specific rules on carrying over annual leave to subsequent leave years which in effect prevents an employee from building up several weeks of annual leave where they have been off sick for a number of years.

In certain planned absence situations, such as a sabbatical, the employer and employee can jointly agree that the employee’s annual leave will not continue to accrue during the absence. In these situations the employee’s annual leave entitlement is reduced proportionately according to the duration of time they spend away from work.

If an employee leaves the company without having taken all of their accrued annual leave at the point they leave, then they are entitled to payment in lieu of holiday. The opposite can also occur – where an employee leaves having taken more than their accrued holiday entitlement. In these cases their contract may provide for the recovery of the additional pay they have received.

This information is correct at the time of writing, but employment law is complex and constantly changing. Despite this it is important that every manager has at least a basic understanding of their employee’s holiday rights.