Holiday entitlements

So you want to go on holiday. But how much annual leave are you entitled to? The Mix explains how much paid holiday you can get and when you can take it.

Bloke on holiday

Now, where's the nearest bar?

Most workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid statutory holiday by law.

If you are a full-time worker you should have at least 28 days’ paid annual leave.

If you work part-time, or for an agency, you get 5.6 weeks leave divided by how many days you work. Your number of holiday days is worked out on a pro-rata basis. So, if you work 2.5 days a week you should get 14 days holiday.

Even if you are paid by the hour, you’re still entitled to paid holiday. Your boss should have given you a contract of employment explaining how much you’ll get. If they haven’t, ask for one.

Who isn’t entitled to annual leave?

There are some exceptions to the statutory holiday rights:

  • If you’re in the armed forces or police you don’t have statutory entitlement to paid leave, your contract will say how much leave you get
  • If you’re self-employed

When can I take my holiday leave?

You need to ask your boss. Normally you’re allowed to take holiday whenever you like, but if your employer gives you enough warning (at least the length of time as the holiday you want to take) they can refuse the dates you want.

There’ll usually be a valid reason, but if you feel your boss is being unfair speak to your HR department at work, your trade union, or contact your local Citizens Advice.

Do I get public (bank) holidays off?

Your boss doesn’t have to give you public holidays off. And there’s no law saying you have to be paid if they do. Lots of jobs like retail, security and nursing need people to work every day (including public holidays), and you’ll have to book these off as leave.

Office workers tend to have bank holidays off, and these will usually be included in your statutory paid leave. Whichever applies to you, make sure you get the paid 28 days off that you’re entitled to.

Can I carry holiday over to the next year?

You cannot carry over statutory holiday from one year to another, even if you don’t use it up. And your employer can’t legally pay you for holiday you’ve lost.

Your best bet is to take regular holidays and try to use up your entitlement. Chartered Management Institute estimates that 19 million days of holiday go untaken every year, but it’s there to be used, so don’t forget to take yours.

I’ve just spent half of my holiday in bed ill

Unfortunately if you get sick during your holiday you aren’t automatically entitled to claim back the days. It’s probably worth asking your employer though – especially if you have a medical certificate to prove your case.

Can I still build up holiday if I’m on sick leave?

Yes. Your holiday leave will build up until you have used up all the sick leave you’re entitled to (a maximum of 28 weeks). Your boss must inform you about this once you return to work. You can even carry it over to the following year.

Can I still build up holiday if I’m on maternity leave?

Technically, during paternity and maternity leave, your holiday builds up as if you were still at work. The rules can get complicated, so speak to your employer, union or local Citizens Advice for more information.

Next Steps

  • Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law. 0300 123 1100
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015