What Holiday Entitlement Does the Law Provide

05 September 2017

Most workers in England and Wales are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year, which is known as your Statutory Entitlement. Four weeks of this holiday entitlement is protected under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (EU Legislation).

Who Gets Holiday Entitlement?

Workers who work full-time, part-time, as a casual worker or as an agency worker (with a few exceptions to the rule) are entitled to the statutory holiday entitlement. Exceptions include if you are self-employed or if you are in the armed forces or police.

If your employer refuses to pay you holiday pay on the grounds that you are self-employed, a dispute may arise as to your employment status. If so, you can check your employment status by contacting our Employment Solicitors for further information and advice.

If you work fixed hours and have fixed pay (full or part-time), workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of leave they take. Holiday pay is calculated based on the hours you work. Therefore if you do not have fixed hours, a week’s holiday pay is calculated using the average pay you received in the last 12 weeks.

You accrue (earn) holiday as soon as you start work. For example if you are entitled to 25 days holiday a year, you need to divide 25 by 12 months to find out how much annual leave you accrue each month. Using this example, it would mean that you earn 2.08 days annual leave per month you work. If you leave part way through a year then your holiday entitlement is calculated on a pro rata basis.

Your employer can dictate what the relevant leave year is and this is usually either stated in your contract of employment of employee handbook. Your employer can also tell you when to take leave – for instance, you might be told you have to take annual leave during Christmas if the business is closed. An employer can also restrict leave during busy periods. Your contract of employment may cover this.

Your contract of employment will state whether you can carry over leave. You may be given contractual holiday entitlement in addition to your statutory holiday entitlement.

What about Public Holidays?

There is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for public holidays. This again may be covered in your contract of employment. Public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory four weeks holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Does Leave Accrue During Periods of Absence?

As long as a contract exists between the employer and the worker, the statutory minimum entitlement to paid holiday will continue to accrue during periods of absence, such as long-term illness, ordinary and additional maternity leave.

Holiday Entitlement Denied?

Workers denied statutory entitlements to paid annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998 should seek to settle disputes with their employer by setting out the problem. Employees can go through the organisation’s grievance or appeals procedures, where they exist.

If it's not possible to reach an agreement in this way, workers may submit a complaint to an Employment Tribunal within three months of the refusal as it would be considered an unlawful deduction of wages. If the complaint is upheld, the Tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and may award compensation to be paid to the worker by the employer.

For further advice about holiday pay entitlements call our Employment Solicitors and we can provide legal assistance through one of our fixed fee services.

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