As we come up to the most popular holiday time of summer, the August Bank Holiday weekend, we thought today would be the perfect time to remind employers of their obligations with regards to managing annual leave.
- The UK minimum annual holiday allowance is 28 days for full-time employees, which includes the eight bank holidays. These are the ‘statutory’ days. Remember that workers do not have an automatic right to have the day off on bank holidays, nor is there any obligation to pay a premium rate; this is left entirely to employer discretion.
- Generally, there is no automatic entitlement to carry over any unused holiday to a new holiday leave year. However, if it is feasible, employers could allow a limited number of days to be carried over as a goodwill gesture. Most employers allow three to five days to be carried over but set a deadline; for example, employees should take it in the first three months of the new holiday leave year. In other words, use it or lose it!
- The annual leave rules and the process for requesting leave should be set out in each employees contract of employment and your staff handbook so that everyone is clear on what they can and cannot do.
- Employers cannot offer to pay in lieu of untaken holidays for any of the 28 UK statutory days at any time other than on termination of employment. It is illegal to pay for this holiday as it is conflict; a holiday is for time off work to rest. However, if employers offer more than 28 UK days, this can be paid.
- Workers can ask for paid holiday during a period of sick leave. Also, if they fall ill just before or during a holiday, they can request to take this as sick leave instead of annual leave. The employer should expect the worker to provide proof that they had been sick.
- Employers can reject requests for leave and to schedule leave on days for business reasons such busy times of the year or Christmas shutdown. If an employer is refusing a holiday request; then the employer must give at least as much notice as the length of annual leave requested.
- People who work irregular hours, for example shift workers, are entitled to paid time off for every hour they work. Please refer to the Gov.UK document Calculating Pay for Workers Without Fixed Hours for further information.
- The holiday entitlement for part-time workers is at 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday. Their benefit, of course, will amount to fewer than 28 days. The calculation is quite straightforward; if they work three days a week, they must get at least 16.8 days’ leave a year (3 × 5.6).
- It’s OK for an employer to offer additional leave to their employees on top of the legal minimum; this is referred to as company leave. It’s also OK to apply different rules to company leave; for example, you could specify that a worker needs to have been employed by you for a continuous period of say 5-years before they become entitled to it.
- If a new employee starts their job part-way through your holiday leave year, they are only entitled to a portion of their total annual leave for the current holiday leave year. What they get depends on how much of the year is left; for example, if you are offering the statutory minimum of 28 days and they join six months into your current leave year, then they would be entitled to only 14 days. It is a good idea to explain this to new starters, so they do not overbook their holiday.
The government website www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights is a handy source of up-to-date information and should be your go-to point regarding holiday entitlement rights.