This page sets out your basic rights to time off for holidays and holiday pay and how to check if you have more than the legal minimum. It covers:
On this page:
- How much holiday and holiday pay should I get?
- Checking what you are entitled to
- Taking your holiday
- If you work part-time
- If you are an agency worker
All ‘workers’ (including agency staff and apprentices) have a legal right to at least 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year (inclusive of bank or public holidays).
If you work five days a week, this translates into 28 days’ statutory holiday a year. If you work part-time, your holiday entitlement will be reduced pro rata to the number of days a week that you work.
There is a useful holiday calculator on the gov.uk website.
However, you do not have statutory holiday rights if you are genuinely self-employed.
You may get more than the legal minimum from your employer, depending on your employment contract. Your employer can set its own rules for this extra contractual holiday. For example, you may need to be employed for a certain period of time before you qualify for it.
Your job offer letter and your employment contract should spell out what rights to holidays and holiday pay your employer provides. Your employer must keep any promises they make to you about your holiday rights. They can only be changed with your agreement.
Your employer must also include information about holidays and holiday pay rights in your written statement of employment particulars. (This document often doubles up as your employment contract.)
The statement must provide you with enough information about your entitlement to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay to enable you to calculate your holiday entitlement and any entitlement to accrued holiday pay when you leave your job.
Your employer is likely to have a holiday procedure, for example in the staff handbook or on your employer’s intranet, setting out the rules on booking holiday. Be sure to check this and follow it carefully. Some employers treat taking unauthorised holiday as a disciplinary offence.
Unless your contract or holiday procedure says something different, you must give your employer at least twice as much notice as the length of the holiday you want to take. For example, if you want to take a week off, you must give at least two weeks’ notice.
Your employer can ask you to delay your holiday, as long as they give you at least as much notice as the holiday you want to take.
These are the ‘default’ rules. They will apply unless your employer has put in place something different. Most large organisations have their own rules and procedures about booking holiday.
You usually have to take the first four weeks of your holiday in the correct holiday year. Your employer may allow you to carry forward the rest of your holiday allocation into the next holiday year, but only if your employment contract or your employer’s holiday procedure allows this.
If you work part time, you have the same rights to holidays and holiday pay (including bank holidays) as any full-time worker, reduced pro rata to the number of days or hours you work.
If you are an agency worker, you are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid statutory holiday a year, reduced pro rata to the number of days or hours that you work, just like any other worker. The employment agency is responsible for ensuring you get your full holiday and holiday pay entitlement.
In addition, after 12 weeks in the same role working for the same client, you have the same holiday rights as a comparable direct hire of the client. You are also covered by the same rules about when you must take your holiday, and any enhanced pay for working on bank holidays.
These are your rights under the Agency Workers Regulations. Your employer cannot, for example, pay you a premium rate in return for agreeing to less holiday than direct hires where you work, or impose rules that make it harder for you to take holiday at busy times of the year. You also have these rights if you are engaged through an intermediary, such as an umbrella company.
If you are an agency worker, the agency is legally obliged to give you written information about your holiday and holiday pay rights before the start of each assignment.
You cannot take holiday while you are on parental leave (maternity, adoption, paternity or shared parental leave). But you continue building up holiday while you are on leave, meaning that you can often end up with large amounts of holiday to take at the end.
Taking paid holiday can be a good way of extending the time you spend at home, once your statutory right to pay has run out (that is, during the final 13 weeks of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave).
If you can’t use up all your annual leave before going on maternity leave, you must be allowed to carry unused holiday into the next holiday year. It would be maternity discrimination to make you give up on holiday that you couldn’t take because you were on maternity leave.
If you are a member of a same-sex couple taking adoption leave, you must be given the same rights to carry forward unused holiday as women on maternity leave. Otherwise your employer risks engaging in sexual orientation discrimination.
When on holiday, you should be paid your normal wages, as if you were at work.
Your holiday pay should include any regular payments you receive at work such as regular overtime pay and anti-social hours payments. It is against the law to pay you only basic pay while on holiday if your normal pay includes other components.
If you don’t work regular hours, the employer must work out a week’s holiday pay based on your average weekly pay in the 12 weeks prior to the holiday being taken. If you have done no work in one of these 12 weeks, they must go back in time to the next earlier week when you did some work.
You can use the government’s holiday calculator.
There is some protection of your holiday entitlement if you can’t take it in the holiday year because you are sick. This only applies to the first four weeks of your holiday entitlement.
If you can’t take the full four weeks’ during your holiday year because you are off sick, you must be allowed to carry any of that untaken holiday into the next holiday year. This is the case even if your employment contract says otherwise.
If you fall ill on holiday or before starting a pre-booked holiday, you must be allowed to reschedule your holiday to a later date. Again, this rule only applies to your first four weeks of holiday under the Working Time Directive.
There is no statutory right to time off, paid or unpaid, on Sundays or bank holiday (except for some special rules in the retail sector about Easter Sunday and Christmas Day).
If you work on a bank holiday, there is no statutory right to extra pay or extra time off.
To find out what rights you have to time off, you need to check your employment contract or your written statement of employment particulars.
Bank holidays can be included in your 5.6 weeks of statutory holiday entitlement. This should be stated clearly in your written statement.
If you work part time, you must be given the same bank holiday rights as a comparable full-timer where you work, reduced pro rata to your part-time hours.