Everything about holiday entitlement

The one thing you can be sure of is that every employee (and worker) will want to book and take their holiday. Holiday needs to be managed and planned to ensure you have sufficient cover. You need simple but effective systems to ensure holidays in the organisation are managed correctly and effectively.  

Every employee is entitled to paid holiday. The minimum statutory holiday entitlement is 4 working weeks, holiday is pro-rata for part-time employees. In addition from 2022, there are 10 Public Holidays. 

You need to have clear rules around holidays; including how holidays are requested and authorised, if any holiday is allocated (e.g. Public Holidays, Christmas shutdown etc) and rules around carrying forward holiday etc. Our guidance recommends rules for each of these and many other areas.  

You also need to be clear about holiday pay. This needs to take into consideration any 'regular' payments an employee is paid, for example, regular overtime. 

Calculating holidays for full time workers is quite straightforward. But how do you calculate holiday for part time staff, or those with no fixed contracted hours, or those working on shift patterns? Our guidance on calculating holiday will take you through different situations step-by-step. 

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Employees cannot be forced to take holiday while they are sick and this includes where they become ill during a holiday. This means that employees who are sick during holiday leave are entitled to ask their employer to reschedule that holiday for an alternative date later in the year. This would mean that the employer would pay employees sick pay rather than holiday pay for the period during which they were ill. If sick pay is limited to payment from the DEASP you may find that most employees will not report sickness if they would prefer to receive full pay (rather than just illness benefit from the DEASP). In addition, employees will still need to follow the normal rules for reporting absence, and you could include in your rules on absence that you will require confirmation from a medical practitioner of any sickness during periods of absence (e.g. a Fit Note). If an employee reports absence post the holiday period you will need to look at your absence records and update accordingly, this  may mean an agreed refund of holiday pay over a defined period if no sick pay is payable. 

Yes, but you must be able to justify your objective for doing so. Each business must look at the working patterns of the employees overall. For example, a factory employing 100 production line workers on shift patterns of 5 days out of 7 could be reasonably expected to accommodate a request to allocate a specific rest day for an employee as it should be possible to get other workers to cover those days on a rotating shift pattern. The question is whether the 'provision, criterion or practice' (PCP) may specifically disadvantage a particular group and if you can justify the reason for the PCP. For example, requiring all employees to work on Sundays irrespective of religion, could put Christians at a disadvantage because it prevents attendance at church and Sunday rest; as such this could be held to be indirect discrimination. You must be able to prove that you have a legitimate aim in applying a PCP and be able to explain and justify the PCP by showing that it was a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'. If you can't, it is assumed that the PCP is discriminatory.

Yes. Under the Maternity Act, employees will continue to accrue holiday during maternity leave. Employees may want to take any outstanding holiday before their leave and/or to add any holiday to the end of their maternity leave. This can often minimise operational disruption. However, any holiday will be subject to the company's normal holiday booking procedures.

Strictly speaking there is no general ‘right' to time off for religious holidays, but you should be sensitive to the religious requirements of your staff. For example, although you do not need to offer them extra time off above their usual leave entitlement, you should be sympathetic to any requests to use their leave to coincide with religious festivals. You could also offer unpaid leave if this is a viable option, or allow your employee to swap shifts to attend religious festivals. If you have a legitimate business reason for refusing, you should explain this to your employee. If you do not have a good business reason, you could be open to a religious discrimination claim.

Yes. When someone goes on holiday they should receive the same pay as they would have done had they been at work. Therefore if they receive regular overtime or other regular benefits these must be taken into consideration when calculating holiday pay. Please see Holiday Pay.

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Case Study - Unauthorised Holiday

This case study looks at situations when holiday in not authorised, but an employee takes the time off anyway!  The case study demonstrates that by having the right documentation and procedures in place, a Company can take the most severe action if needed.

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