Holidays and Holiday Pay
Who has the right to paid holidays?
Most workers have the right to take a minimum amount of paid holiday each year. This is called statutory holiday.
You have the right to take statutory paid holiday from work if you are a worker. This includes people who work full-time, part-time, agency workers and casual workers. Only people who are self-employed and a few other exceptions will not be entitled to statutory paid holiday (see below).
The rules about statutory holiday apply regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.
You have the right to take 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year.
Before 1 April 2009, your right to paid holiday from work was 4.8 weeks. Your leave year may have started before 1 April 2009 and carries on after 1 April 2009.
If so, your annual leave will be worked out on a pro-rata basis – 4.8 weeks pro rata for the period before 1 April 2009 and 5.6 weeks pro rata for the period from 1 April 2009.
Your contract of employment may give you the right to take more than the statutory amount of paid holiday. However, it cannot give you less. If your contract gives you the right to take more than the statutory amount of paid holiday, this is called contractual holiday.
Workers who do not have the right to statutory holiday
There are some workers who are not entitled to statutory holiday.
You won't have the right to statutory holiday if you work in:
the armed forces
the civil protection services.
However, if you're not entitled to statutory paid holiday, your contract of employment will probably give you the right to take contractual holiday.
How much paid holiday can you take?
You are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' holiday a year. This is called statutory holiday.
To work out how many days holiday you can take a year, you need to multiply 5.6 by the number of days you work in a week.
if you work a five-day week, you are entitled to 28 days' paid holiday a year (5.6 X 5).
if you work 2.5 days a week, you are entitled to 14 days' paid holiday a year (5.6 X 2.5).
The maximum amount of statutory paid holiday you can be entitled to is 28 days.
This applies even if you work more than five days a week.
Your contract of employment may give you the right to take more than the statutory amount of paid holiday. However, it cannot give you less. For example, if your contract of employment says you can only take 10 days' paid holiday a year and you work five days a week, you will still be entitled to take 28 days' paid holiday.
If your normal working week is expressed in hours, your statutory leave may be expressed in hours too.
Before 1 April 2009, you were entitled to 4.8 weeks paid holiday a year. If your leave year includes time before 1 April 2009, your annual leave will be worked out on a pro-rata basis – 4.8 weeks pro rata for the period before 1 April 2009 and 5.6 weeks pro rata for the period from 1 April 2009.
What is a leave year?
A leave year is a one-year period in which you get your years’ worth of leave. Your employer will usually agree the start and end of the leave year with you. Some leave years start on 1 January and finish on 31 December. Others start on 6 April and finish on 5 April the following year.
If you and your employer have not agreed when the leave year should start and finish, the leave year will start on:-
1 October (23 November in Northern Ireland), if you started work with your employer on or before 1 October 1998 (23 November 1998 in Northern Ireland). Each leave year after this will start on the following 1 October (23 November in Northern Ireland); or
the date you started work for your employer, if you started work after 1 October 1998 (23 November 1998 in Northern Ireland). Each leave year after this will start on the anniversary of the date on which you started work.
If you start work partway through your leave year, the amount of leave you get depends on how much of the leave year you have worked. For example, if you start work in April in a company where the leave year starts on 1 October, you have started half-way through the leave year. You will therefore get half the annual paid leave for that year. There are special rules if you are in your first year of employment.
Bank and public holidays
You do not have an automatic right to take bank or public holidays off work, with or without pay. This will depends on your employment contract.
Your employment contact may say that you have the right to statutory holidays or it may not say anything about contractual holidays or statutory holidays. In these cases, your employer can:
Ask you to work bank or public holidays, or
give you bank and public holidays off and pay you for them but ask you to count them towards your statutory holiday entitlement, or
do a combination of all of these.
Your employment contract may give you bank or public holidays off on top of your statutory holiday. If this is the case, your contract will specify this and also say whether you will be paid for these days. The situation can be complicated if your contract says nothing about bank and public holidays.
What your contract must say about holidays
If you are an employee you are entitled to a written statement of your terms and conditions of employment as long as you have worked for your employer for one month. You are an employee if you have a contract of employment. Many employers do not give their employees a written statement of the main terms and conditions of the job even though the law says they have to. If your employer does not give you the written statement within two months of the date on which you started work, they will be breaking the law.
The written statement must contain information on your right to holidays, including public holidays and holiday pay. Your employer must give you enough information to work out your entitlement to holidays and holiday pay, and your right to any holiday pay you may have built up when you leave your job.
How much holiday pay should you get?
Your employer will pay your holiday pay at the same rate as your normal pay. You may get a higher rate of holiday pay if your contract gives you the right to a higher rate.
Some employers and employment agencies may say that your hourly rate of pay includes an amount for holiday pay, and that they expect you to save this part of your pay to cover your holidays. This is known as 'rolled up' holiday pay. Rolled up holiday pay is against the law.
Your right to paid holiday from the day you start work
If you are a worker who has the right to paid holiday you have this right from your first day of employment. However, this does not mean you can take all of your leave as soon as you start work. During your first year you can be restricted to only taking holiday that you have accrued.
What notice must be given before you take holiday?
If you have not got an agreement with your employer about how much notice you have to give before you can take holiday the following rules apply:
your employer can make you take all or any of your holiday at a particular time, as long as they give you notice. This notice must be at least twice as long as the holiday they want you to take. For example, if your employer wants to have a Christmas shutdown for one week, they have to give you notice of the date the holiday is to start at least two weeks before it starts.
you must give notice to your employer when you want to take holiday. This notice must be at least twice as long as the holiday you want to take. For example, if you want to take three days’ leave, you must give your employer notice of this at least six days before your holiday is due to start.
Your employer can refuse to let you take holiday. To do this they must give you notice equal to the holiday you want to take. So if you have asked to take two weeks’ holiday and have told your employer four weeks before the date you want your holiday to start, your employer must tell you two weeks before your holiday is due to start that you cannot take the holiday.
Your employer refuses to let you take holiday
If your employer refuses to let you take any holiday, you should usually try to sort it out informally with them first. If this doesn't work, you may need to raise a grievance.
For If you have tried to raise the issue with your employer and are still not happy with the outcome, you can ask an employment tribunal to enforce your right to take holiday. If you make a claim to a tribunal, you must do this within three months of your employer's refusal to let you take holiday.
If you have given your employer the right notice of holiday, you are generally entitled to take it. However, under certain kinds of agreement between you and your employer, they can refuse your request for holiday. They can also refuse your request for holiday if they have given you the proper notice of their refusal. However, if your employer has not given you proper notice of refusal but still refuses to let you go on holiday, you can claim compensation at an employment tribunal. You should raise a formal grievance with your employer first (see above).
If you cannot use up all of your holiday in one leave year, you may have the right to carry some of it over to the next leave year.
Generally, you are not allowed to carry over statutory holiday from one year to the next. Statutory holiday is the minimum amount of paid holiday you have a right to take by law.
Your employment contract may give you contractual holiday on top of statutory holiday. If your contract gives you contractual holiday, you may be able to carry over some of this holiday to the next leave year. You can only carry over contractual holiday if your employment contract says you can. You may also be able to be paid for any contractual holiday you have not taken, depending on what it says in your employment contract.
If you cannot use up all your paid holiday because your employer will not let you take the holiday before the leave year ends, you should seek the help of one of our experienced advisers for a free consultation.
When you leave your job you should be paid any holiday pay owed to you. If you employer refuses, you can ask an employment tribunal to enforce your rights. You must make a claim within three months of the date your employment ended.
If your employer refuses to pay you holiday pay, you can ask an employment tribunal to enforce your rights. You may be able to make a claim for all your unpaid holiday pay, even if it goes back for more than a year. You must make a claim within three months of the last date you were not paid holiday pay.
What happens to your holiday if you are off sick?
If you are off sick, you will be entitled to build up statutory paid holiday while you are off work. When you return to work, you can ask your employer if you can take the holiday you have built up before the end of the leave year. If you have had your employment terminated while you were off sick, you are entitled to be paid all the statutory holiday pay you have built up.
If your employer refuses to let you take holiday on your return to work or refuses to pay you statutory holiday pay you have built up if your job has ended, you can ask an employment tribunal to enforce your rights. You may be able to make a claim for all your unpaid holiday pay. You must make a claim within three months of the last date you were not paid holiday pay.
You will only be entitled to build up contractual holiday while you are off sick if your contract allows for this.
Holidays and maternity/paternity and adoption leave
Most women employees have the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. During this period, you have the right to build up your statutory holidays in the same way as if you were at work. Statutory holiday means the minimum holiday you are entitled to by law. Your contract may give you more holiday than this.
Working parents may be entitled to paid paternity or adoption leave. During paternity and adoption leave, you have the right to build up your statutory holidays in the same way as if you were at work. Statutory holiday means the minimum holiday you are entitled to by law. Your contract may give you more holiday than this.
Some workers, for example, seasonal workers, have contracts, which say they only work for part of the year. For example, your contract may run for 42 weeks out of 52, and your employer tells you to take unpaid leave for the remaining ten weeks before you start working for them again. In this situation your holiday rights depend on whether you have a contract of employment or not, and whether it continues during the time you are not working.
Leaving your job
If you have not been able to take all the holiday you have built up before your job ends, you have the right to be paid for all accrued but untaken holiday.
If your employer refuses to pay you for untaken holiday
Your employer may refuse to pay you for untaken holiday if you are leaving or have left your job. If you are in this situation you can enforce your right to pay for untaken holiday at an employment tribunal. If you are in this situation you may have to raise a written grievance with your employer first.
If you owe holiday when you leave your job
If you have taken holiday you were not entitled to and you leave your job, your employer can sometimes make a deduction from your final pay for holiday you owe. The law in this area is complicated and you should seek further advice.
Holiday pay if your employer becomes insolvent
If your employer becomes insolvent, you may be able to claim money owed from the National Insurance Fund. You can claim up to six weeks’ holiday pay. This may be for holidays you have taken but have not yet been paid for, or for holiday pay you have built up.
 Holiday entitlement - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/entitlement
 Annual holiday entitlement | Acas advice and guidance | Acas [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1374
 Holiday pay - what you’re entitled to - Citizens Advice [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/rights-at-work/holiday/holiday-pay-what-youre-entitled-to/
 UK bank holidays - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/bank-holidays
 Contracts of employment | Acas advice and guidance | Acas [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1577
 Employment contracts - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar 14]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/employment-contracts-and-conditions/written-statement-of-employment-particulars
 Employment Tribunal - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 Feb 23]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/employment-tribunal