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Holiday Entitlement

Holiday rights are a legal requirement, so understanding what you are entitled to depending on what sort of work you do is essential. Your employment contract should include your holiday allowance terms and conditions.

If you are confused about your rights to annual holiday entitlement, or are having issues with your employer regarding annual leave, IAS have a team of expert lawyers to help you. Contact us today online or call +44 (0)333 414 9244.


Understanding Holiday Entitlement: Key Principles

Every employee is entitled to a legal minimum of paid leave each year. Statutory leave entitlement is a legal requirement that must be complied with by employers.

Legally, UK law requires 5.6 weeks paid holiday leave for full time employment, and for other types of employment you can calculate your leave based upon the statutory holiday entitlement.

Depending on your contract with your employer, how many days of holiday you are allowed to take in a year is calculated according to how many days or the number of hours of work you do for the company.

Please note the following key principles about holiday pay:

  • You are paid the same amount as usual during the paid holiday days
  • Bank holidays and other public holidays can be included within the paid allowance
  • Accruing your holiday starts from the first day of employment
  • You should be paid for any unused holiday days leftover at the end of the year, or at the end of your employment
  • Your employer ultimately decides when holiday allowance can be taken by the employee, and reserves the right to deny particular dates of leave if it is not beneficial to the organisation.
Sunbathing on the beach

Booking Time Off

For Employees

When booking time off with your employer, it is usually best to discuss your plans with your line manager before booking anything through the system to avoid any disappointment in not getting the time off you wanted.

As an employee, it is important to respect busy periods for your organisation and understand that taking multiple days off in a row during critical periods may be difficult for your employer to approve.

It’s also good to be mindful of when other team members have booked their annual leave so that your team isn’t heavily impacted by multiple absences.

For Employers

As an employer, it is mandatory to allow employees to take the amount of days off work per year that they are legally entitled to. It’s a good idea to set out the terms of your employees’ leave in detail in the contract or employee handbook.

It’s important to make your employees feel comfortable booking their statutory annual leave. It is best practice not to ask too many questions as to why they are booking time off work, and to explain in detail why you may have to decline a leave request. It’s recommended that you offer a mutually beneficial alternative if you have to decline a particular request for leave.

Calculate Your Paid Holiday Entitlement

The quickest way you can estimate how much holiday you are entitled to is to multiply 5.6 with the amount of days you work per week.

So if you worked for one day a week, you would calculate it as follows:

  • 1 x 5.6 = 5.6 days of paid time off per year.

Holiday Entitlement for Full Time Workers

The standard annual statutory entitlement if you work full time is 28 days paid leave, or 5.6 weeks.

Your employer may offer more paid leave than the standard. However, they are not obligated to. The employer is, though, legally obligated to offer 28 paid leave days per year to a full time employee.

Please note that you are not entitled to more paid holiday allowance if you work more than 5 days per week.

Holiday Entitlement for Part Time Workers

If you are a part time employee, you must calculate holiday on a pro rata basis. You can use the UK government’s holiday calculator to get an idea of what you are entitled to.

For example, if you work four days a week, your minimum entitlement for paid leave is 22.4 days.

If you work for three days per week as a part time worker, then you must receive a minimum of 16.8 days of annual leave allowance.

Holiday Entitlement for Irregular Work

You are considered someone who works irregular hours with a company if you are a shift worker, or work for limited periods of time such as during term-time or are a seasonal worker.

Whilst part time and full time employees calculate their holiday allowance based on the number of days worked per week, irregular workers must calculate paid holidays based on how many hours employees worked.

If you work for an agency, you are entitled to the same as other employees of the company you are contracted to.

The holiday calculator can help you calculate annual leave entitlement. However, we understand that irregular hours can be more complicated to work out. At IAS, we have a team of employment experts that can help you be sure that you are receiving the appropriate amount of leave. Contact us today online or call us on 0333 305 9375.

Do you need advice or support with holiday entitlement matter?

Other Types of Leave and Holiday Allowance

Additional Leave

Employees don’t have an automatic right to more leave than their contract dictates even if it is unpaid. If an employer offers more holiday than is obligated with statutory leave, then they have the right to set out the terms of additional leave as they see fit.

Some organisations offer additional annual leave as a benefit for employees who have worked for a certain number of years with the company.

Parental Leave

Maternity, paternity or adoption leave is separate from statutory paid holiday entitlement. Despite this, new parents are still able to accrue paid annual leave during the time they are taking parental leave.

Sick Leave

If you are on sick leave, you are entitled to statutory sick pay. During your time off sick, you are still entitled to request annual leave at the same time. Employees can also build up their annual entitlement of paid holiday whilst off sick.

Bank Holidays and Public Holidays

Employers sometimes include bank holidays and public holidays are part of the number of days paid holiday you receive. Most parts of the UK usually have eight bank holidays each year, though Northern Ireland has 10 bank holidays per year. If you work full time and your employer includes bank holidays as part of your paid allowance, then you will have 20 days of personally chosen annual leave to take each year, or 18 in Northern Ireland.

Please note that you don’t have legal rights to paid annual leave on a bank holiday.

For part time employees, if an employer offers additional leave on bank holidays, then this should be given pro rata as well.

Disputes and Issues: How to Resolve


Paid holiday allowance is mandatory for any employee to receive, and so must be provided by the employer.

Sometimes, time off can become an issue, and can be the result of either the employer or employee not adhering to their contractual and legal obligations. You should always try to resolve any issues calmly and with the person that you are having difficulty with before moving forward with formal action.


An employee should file a grievance at work if they have grounds to believe that their employer is not fulfilling their contractual obligations regarding paid annual leave.

A company’s grievance procedure should be provided to the employee in written form, and is usually found in an employee handbook or in an employee online portal, in HR documentation or in the employee contract. It is best practice for the employee to accurately follow the company’s grievance procedure to be sure to receive the best outcome.

Disciplinary Action

Sometimes, an employee may face disciplinary action if the employer has reasons to believe that the employee is in some way abusing their statutory paid holiday entitlement, or are not complying with company policy.

Behaviour that could lead to disciplinary action should be outlined in writing by the employer as above.


Find out how we can assist with your Holiday Entitlement dispute.

How Can IAS Help?

Statutory annual leave is a legally earned right by a company’s employees, and most of the time employees and employers experience few issues in granting and calculating holiday entitlement.

However, sometimes it can be a bit tricky to know how much someone is entitled to, especially if there have been longer absences due to sickness or other personal issues, or if employees work very irregular hours.

Sometimes, disagreements between employees and employers can result in challenging disputes surrounding an employee’s statutory annual leave. This can lead to messy work tribunals, which are very stressful on both sides.

If you are having problems regarding statutory holiday entitlement with your employer or employee, you can contact us for support today.

Immigration Advice Services offer expert legal advice and support with work-related challenges, and if necessary, have a team of lawyers who can help you with work appeals and tribunals. Contact us today online or call us on 0333 305 9375.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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