How many holidays am I entitled to?

When you’re in secondary school the main thing to look forward to is those six glorious weeks off during the summer, plus all the holidays in between. Unfortunately, the workplace isn’t quite as generous with days off (unless you’re a teacher of course). Wondering 'how many holidays am I entitled to?', The Mix breaks it down for you.

Two young women are looking at a phone. They are discussing holiday entitlement. This is a wide-angle image.

How much holiday am I entitled to?

Most workers are entitled to a legal minimum of 5.6 weeks of annual holiday. This roughly translates to 28 working days of paid annual leave. You can find out more about this on the government’s website

I work part time, how much holiday am I entitled to?

Part time workers and agency workers get 5.6 weeks leave divided by the number of days they work. If that’s you, you can work out your number of holiday days based on a pro-rata basis. We’ll give you an example because the maths can get pretty confusing. So if you work three days a week, you should get 16.8 days of holiday. Wondering what pro-rata is? Read this article.

It’s important to note that whether you’re paid by days or hours worked, 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, then ask for one ASAP.

Who isn’t entitled to holiday pay, a.k.a annual leave?

You won’t be given annual leave:

  • 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 own your own business

When can I take my holiday leave?

This honestly depends on your boss. Normally you’re allowed to take holiday whenever you like, but if your employer gives you enough warning (at least the same length of time as the holiday you want to take) then they can choose to refuse the dates you want.

Generally speaking there’ll be a valid reason for the refusal. But if you feel your boss is being unfair, you can always speak to your HR department at work, your trade union, or contact your local Citizens Advice.

Do I get public (bank) holidays off?

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

On the other hand, office workers tend to have bank holidays off, and these’ll usually be included in your statutory paid leave. Whichever applies to you, keep track to make sure you’re getting the paid 28 days off that you’re entitled to.

Can I carry holiday over to the next year?

Unlike Tesco mobile data, you can’t carry over statutory holidays 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. 

Even though you might carry over some holiday days (depending on your employer), you should probably just use them up during the year. The Chartered Management Institute estimates that 19 million days of holiday go untaken every year. So it looks like you’ll just have to take that trip to Jamaica – you know, so that you don’t let anything go to waste. 

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

Unfortunately if you get sick during your holiday there’s not much you can do about it. Legally, you aren’t automatically entitled to claim back the days. This means that 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. Basically, your holiday leave will build up until you take all your sick pay (a maximum of 28 weeks). Your boss should let you know about this after you return to work. You can even carry a maximum of 20 days’ leave entitlement into the following year if you couldn’t take annual leave because you were off sick.

How many holidays am I entitled to if I’m on maternity leave/paternity leave/shared parental leave?

In the same vein as sick leave, during paternity and maternity leave your holiday builds up. If you can’t take your annual leave due to being on maternity/paternity/shared parental leave, your employer is legally required to allow you to carry it over into the following leave year. The rules can get complicated, so speak to your employer, union or local Citizens Advice for more information.

For more information check out our workers’ rights and pay resources here. Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law, call them on 0300 123 1100.

Next Steps

  • Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law. 0300 123 1100
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work pay

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 02-Mar-2022