If popular opinion is to be believed, things can’t get much worse than today, “Blue Monday”, which is said to be the gloomiest of the whole year. Staff morale and general productivity will be at an all-time low as the entire workforce collectively laments the festive break.
Maybe it’s the jarring effect of having to return to the five-day-working-week after a prolonged period of excess and relaxation or perhaps a lengthy winter makes us realise that we should probably do like small animals and hibernate until things become even slightly more clement.
Whatever the explanation, it’s also around this time of year that many of us start planning holidays and booking time off work. But before you sign up for a fortnight in Florida, it’s important that you understand the law surrounding paid annual leave, and what it is you’re entitled to.
UK Employment Law - Holiday Entitlement Regulations
Under UK employment law, you have the legal right to a minimum number of paid annual leave days every year. Most full-time workers, those who work five days per week, are entitled to 5.6 weeks, or, 28 days. The total for part-time workers is calculated on a pro-rata basis (total days worked, divided by 5.6).
Your employer is entitled to include any bank or public holidays as part of your paid holiday allowance. There is no legal right to be paid for public holidays where these do not form part of your annual holiday entitlement.
The exact details of your personal holiday entitlement should be clearly set out in your written contract of employment. A written statement outlining the arrangements for paid leave is legally required to be issued to new employees no later than two months of taking up a new post. Employers can opt to provide more than the minimum 28 days entitlement, but any additional leave will not be subject the rules applying to the statutory entitlement.
Your employer is also at liberty to stipulate any times that you must take holidays; when offices may be closed over Christmas, for example. Equally, they can dictate when holidays may not be taken. Again, details of this should be made clear to you in your contract of employment.
Holidays owed to you, but not yet taken
Holiday entitlements usually accrue over time, i.e. often you need to work a minimum period before annual leave is legitimately owed to you and days owed continue to build over time. If you have accumulated paid holidays and then leave your post having not taken all that is due to you, you are legally entitled to be paid for these outstanding holidays.
Booking Time Off And Carrying Days Over
Every workplace has different procedures for booking annual leave so you should check with your employer when you take up post. A general rule of thumb is to give at least twice as much notice as the length of time you’re requesting. If your employer doesn’t agree to grant leave as per your request, they must give you as much notice as the length of time requested.
In the UK, workers must take a minimum of four weeks statutory paid leave over the course of a year. Some employers will agree to any unused holidays being carried over into the next year’s allocation, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t an automatic right and very much at their discretion.
If you are unable to take your full holiday entitlement as a result of being off sick or maternity/paternity leave, your employer must allow you to carry some or all of days into the next year’s holiday allowance. For workers who are off sick and unable to take paid leave, employers must allow a maximum of 20 days to be carried over.
Visit the UK Government’s site for more information on holiday entitlement and the law, and ACAS for free, impartial advice for employers and employees.