Written by: Shani Fowler
It’s a fact most of us live for our holidays. We can’t wait to pack our sunglasses and the factor 25(ish), bid a fond farewell to our work colleagues for a short while and jet off to somewhere sunny; but what about our holiday entitlement? Are we allowed any? How long should we work somewhere before we get holiday entitlement? And importantly are we paid for those precious days lazing round a pool? Let’s have a look at exactly what holiday entitlement we should be legally given.
How many days are you entitled to?
Every employee has the right to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, also known as statutory leave (this equates to 28 days annual leave for someone who works a five day week). Employers can choose to incorporate the 8 bank holidays in this entitlement if they wish. Part time workers are entitled to the same on a pro-rata basis, for example someone who worked two and a half days per week would have 14 days annual leave.
An employer can set their holiday entitlement higher and allow you more leave but this is the minimum you are legally entitled to. You would have to check your own terms of employment to establish whether you are allowed more holiday entitlement.
What if I have irregular hours or shifts?
People who work irregular hours or shift patterns are entitled to the same leave but the calculations often differ, it may be given in hours. This calculation will usually be done for you but you can check you are getting your entitlement on by logging onto www.gov.uk and follow the holiday entitlement links and “irregular hours” section and use the helpful calculator.
I am self-employed or a worker – do I get holiday?
You do not qualify for paid leave if you are self-employed. The best method for self-employed is to budget well throughout the year. A worker (differs from an employee as they are most likely short-term casual workers or agency workers) is entitled to core employment rights and protection and as such includes holiday entitlement.
When does it start and will I get paid?
Your holiday entitlement builds up (accrues) from the very start of your employment. If you had 28 days including bank holidays you would be entitled to 2.3 days per month (but obviously you don’t have to take it like that). If you leave your employment and have holiday entitlement which you have not yet used then you should also be paid for that too. By the same token if you leave your employment and have taken more holiday than accrued you are likely to have this deducted from your final pay or be asked to re-pay the organisation. You should be paid your normal pay for all of your holiday leave entitlement.
What if I am taking maternity, paternity or adoption leave?
You are still entitled to your rights of holiday leave throughout any maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
Can I take holidays when I want?
Your employer can control when you take the holiday. Typically you have to apply for annual leave. There are usually procedures and policies within an organisation of how to apply for and the granting of annual leave. Some organisations have a block on taking leave at certain times of the year, for instance if they have a season where their workload is substantially higher such as Christmas.
What should I do if I am not getting my full entitlement?
In the first instance you could speak to your employer to ascertain the reason. It may be that it is an oversight and can be corrected. However, if you are unhappy with the outcome and you are a member of a trade union you could ask your union representative for help. If you are not a member of a union you can also complain to an industrial tribunal. You can receive free confidential and impartial advice from the Labour Relations Agency.
Taking your full holiday entitlement is critical to a work life balance and making sure you get what you are due is therefore important. Holiday leave (even if you aren’t actually going on holiday) is essential in being given “time-out” from the work environment; presenting the opportunity to re-charge your batteries. Many employers realise the benefit of leave from work and often give more leave than the legal limit for this reason. Some employers also use leave as a reward and incentive to employees who have a certain length of service by adding extra days; for example an employer may give extra days annual leave once you have been with the organisation for a certain number of years. So get your contract checked and make sure that you take what you have earned and deserve!