How much do you know about your holiday entitlement as an employee?
Here are a few things you need to be aware of . . .
1. How to calculate holiday entitlement
The right to a minimum amount of annual leave became law in 1998. At the time, the minimum entitlement was only 3 weeks!
That has risen gradually over the years and, currently, employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday each year. There are no plans to increase that further.
So, the number of actual days an employee can take off will depend on how many days they work each week. For example, someone who does a 5 day week will be entitled to 28 days holiday (5.6 x 5), while someone who works only 3 days will be entitled to only 16.8 days (5.6 x 3).
Individual employment contracts may provide for more holiday but can’t provide for less.
2. The minimum entitlement includes bank holidays
Unless the employment contract states otherwise, the minimum holiday entitlement will include bank holidays.
The usual bank holidays in England and Wales are:
- Easter Monday.
- First Monday in May.
- Last Monday in May.
- Last Monday in August.
- Christmas Day.
- Boxing Day.
- New Year’s Day.
- Good Friday.
So, that’s 8 altogether, although sometimes an additional day will be designated a bank holiday (such as the Royal Wedding).
3. Employees can be required to work on bank holidays
There is a common misconception that employees have the right to take bank holidays off.
In fact, employers can require staff to work on bank holidays if they want to. Of course, an employee can ask to book the day off if they wish, just like they can for any other day.
4. No minimum period of continuous service is required to qualify for holiday entitlement
When the minimum holiday entitlement was first introduced, employees had to be employed for at least 13 weeks to qualify.
However, this has now changed. New workers will begin accruing holiday entitlement from their very first day at work.
5. There are special rules for the first year of employment
Where, as is usual, someone begins their employment part way through the holiday year, leave entitlement for the remainder of the leave year will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.
So, if the holiday year runs from January to December and someone starts in July, they will only get half of the annual holiday entitlement for the remainder of the year.
6. Employees must give sufficient notice of their intention to take holiday
The law requires employees to give at least twice as many days’ notice as the length of the holiday they intend to take. So, if they want to take 5 days’ holiday, they must let their employer know at least 10 days’ beforehand.
7. Employers can refuse to allow their staff to take holiday on the requested dates
An employer may refuse a worker’s holiday request by serving a counter-notice. This must be given at least as many calendar days before the proposed leave is due to commence as the number of days which the employer is refusing.
So, in the example above, the employer must give at least 5 days’ notice that the holiday request is refused.
8. Employers can insist that their staff take time off at certain times
An employer may give notice ordering a worker to take statutory holiday on specified dates. Such notice must be at least twice the length of the period of leave that the worker is being ordered to take. So, for example, if the business is to shut down for two weeks over Christmas, the employer must give at least four weeks’ notice.
9. Staff can carry forward some, but not all, of their holiday entitlement to the next holiday year
If, at the end of a holiday year, an employee has not taken all of their holiday, they can carry forward up to 1.6 weeks into the following year, if both the employer and employee agree to this. However, employers can’t insist that they carry it forward if they want to take it.
10. When the employment ends, the employee must be paid for any untaken holiday
If, at the end of someone’s employment, they haven’t taken all of their holiday, they should be paid for it instead. However, they’re only entitled to be paid for holiday that has accrued – not the full year’s holiday entitlement.
Holiday accrues on a pro-rata basis. For example, if a holiday year runs from January to December and the employee leaves on the 30th September. They will have accrued 9/12 of their annual holiday entitlement.
If you are negotiating a settlement agreement with your employer, you should ensure that they remember to include a payment for accrued but untaken holiday. This sometimes gets forgotten in the initial draft and if it’s not included in the final version, you’ll lose your right to claim it at a later date.
11. If the employee has taken more than their holiday entitlement, the excess may be repayable
An employer has the right to recover a payment from a worker where the worker has taken more holiday than has accrued up to the date of termination of employment but only if this is set out expressly in writing.
Without a written agreement, the employer will not be able to recoup the overpayment.