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Employment Law – Holiday Entitlement and Pay

The summer holidays are upon us and many people are preparing to jet off on holiday for a few weeks of sand, sea and sun. With suitcases packed, passports at the ready and the ‘out of office’ ready to be set, it’s vital that employers and employees are aware of holiday entitlement and pay, to avoid any potential issues.

Annual Leave

Under the Working Times Regulations, most workers in the UK have a statutory right to at least 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days paid annual leave, which is the equivalent.

If you work part time, you are also entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, however this will amount to fewer than 28 days and will be calculated on a pro-rata basis

Employees are entitled to 28 days paid leave from their very day of employment, there is no minimum service requirement.

If you work irregular hours or are on a zero hours contract, you should still be entitled to paid holiday. In such cases it might be easier to calculate the holiday entitlement on the basis of the hours worked. Employers will often calculate holiday entitlement at the rate of 12.07% of hours worked, which although accurate in most cases might not always complies with the Working Time Regulation.

How much notice does an employee need to give for annual leave?

If you are planning a holiday, it’s a good idea to give your employer as much notice as possible, so that relevant arrangements can be made.

In many cases, employers will require at least twice as many days as the number of days’ leave requested as notice. It is important to familiarise yourself with your contract or employee handbook as this may not be the case for all employers.

An employer may also require employees to take leave to which they are entitled on particular days (for example, during the Christmas person) or to not take leave on particular days (for example, during school term time if you work in a school).

Can an employer refuse an employee’s holiday?

An employer can refuse to grant leave, however they must give as much notice as the amount of leave requested, so for example, if you have requested 2-weeks holiday, an employer must give you 2-weeks notice.

Holiday leave may not be granted during particularly busy periods, such as the summer holidays as it is important for employers to ensure business needs are met. Employers should nonetheless be careful before refusing annual leave on religious holidays as this might amount to unlawful religious discrimination in some circumstances.

Employers may also need to cancel annual leave in some circumstances, this may be due to a large project or a predicted busy period for the business or workplace. An employer cannot cancel pre-approved holidays. To do this, the employer must provide an appropriate amount of notice.

The rule is that length of the notice must be equivalent to the period of leave that the employee has proposed to take.

As an employer, it is vital that you have a clear business reason for cancelling annual leave and only do so if absolutely necessary. If an employee cannot take a pre booked holiday, they could suffer financial loss.

Annual leave should also not be cancelled, if it means that the employee cannot take their full statutory entitlement.

Can I take unpaid leave?

If you have run out of annual leave days, you are entitled to ask your employer for unpaid leave, however it is at their discretion as to whether or not they grant you this time.

However, employees with at least one-year service who are responsible for children under the age 18 are entitled to up to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave per child (limited to 4 weeks per annual leave year) for the purpose of caring for that child. Employees requesting parental leave must give 21 days’ notice before the intended start of the leave. The employer cannot refuse to grant parental leave, but they can delay it for no longer than 6 months.

When you should take your holiday by

All employees will have a start and end date for when holidays need to be taken by. This should be made clear to employees when they start their job.

The legal minimum holiday entitlement should be taken during this time and if you get more than the 5.6 weeks, your contract should say if you can carry over holiday, and if so, how much.

If you cannot use your paid holiday (for example, during maternity or sick leave) you may be allowed to carry this over into the next year. It is a good idea to arrange this with your employer as employment law, holiday entitlement and pay, annual leave, unpaid leave, contract of employment, employee early as possible.

Contract of Employment or Employee Handbook

As an employer, you should clearly state the rules regarding booking annual leave in the employee’s Contract of Employment or in the Employee Handbook.

This should include information such as how much notice an employee is required to give, how holiday should be booked and how many consecutive days can be taken. It may also be advisable to specify how many employees can be off at the same time.

If you have a problem with holiday pay or entitlement

Try and resolve any issues that you have with your employer/employee directly if possible.

If this is not possible, you can contact SHU Law for free of charge legal advice on 0114 225 6666.

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