All employees have a right to the legal minimum of at least 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave per year, though they could be given more than this depending on the terms stated in their employment contract.

Understandably, there are often many queries related to holiday entitlement, pay and accruals – and there’s plenty of guidance available across resources provided by bodies such as and ACAS, so we’ve covered the basics below for a short and easy guide.

Staff Holiday Entitlement

To qualify for the right to annual leave, you need to be classed as a ‘worker’.

How Much Paid Holiday Should You Have?

The statutory entitlement to paid holiday is 5.6 weeks per year. If you work the same number of days per week, this is worked out based on the number of days you work in a week x 5.6.

Days Worked Per WeekDays of Paid Holiday Per Year

If you work a number of different days per week, holiday allowance is typically calculated by multiplying the contracted hours per week by 5.6 weeks. Though working irregular hours can make calculating holiday entitlement a little more difficult. If in doubt, you can check how much paid leave you are entitled to here.

Contractual Holiday

There’s no automatic right to additional holiday, even if it’s unpaid, unless your contract states it. Your employer can set their own rules on any holidays they give over and above the legal minimum.

However, while you are only entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday by law, your employer may provide a more substantial holiday benefits package. Anything more than the statutory 5.6 weeks’ entitlement is called ‘contractual; holiday.

Bank Holidays

Bank holidays are not included in your statutory entitlement to paid holiday. While some employers may provide bank holidays off in addition to your annual holiday allowance, it is possible that your employer may require that you take any bank or public holidays out of your paid holiday entitlement.

There are normally eight permanent Bank and Public holidays in England and Wales (ten in Northern Ireland and nine in Scotland). If you work on a Bank or Public holiday, there is no automatic right to an enhanced pay rate. What you receive depends on your contract of employment terms.

If you are part time and your employer gives workers additional time off on Bank Holidays, this should be given pro rata to you as well, even if the Bank Holiday does not fall on your usual working day.


Holiday Accrual

Most employers will allow their staff to use their holiday entitlement for the current holiday year as they wish (within reason – your contract may specify rules when taking time off work, such as how much notice is needed or how many people can take leave at the same time). Either having a full year’s entitlement if you will be working for the entirety of the holiday period or on a pro-rata’d basis if you start or leave mid way through the year.

However, some employers choose to work on an accrual system instead – this means that holiday is built up over time as you work. For example, if your annual entitlement is 28 days and you have worked for 6 months, you would have accrued 14 days which is half of your annual entitlement.

Holiday accrual is calculated by:

  • Working out how many days you have worked (including bank holidays).
  • Diving the number by 12.

For example – if you worked 28 days in a month the sum would be 28 ÷ 12 = 2.33. This is the number of days you would be entitled to per month worked.

Holiday Entitlement at Employment End

When you leave your job part way through the company’s holiday year, your holiday will be pro-rata’d to calculate how much you are entitled to for the period worked. If you have holiday remaining within this allowance, you are entitled to be paid for this time.

However, if you have taken more holiday in the holiday year than you are allowed, you will owe this time to the company and will likely have to pay this back to them from your final pay.

Self Employed

If you are self-employed, there is no statutory right to paid annual leave, though you may still be entitled to paid holiday if your contact states that you are self employed.

If you are unsure of your employment status, check out the Citizen’s Advice employment status guide.

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Why not setup a FREE introduction demo with a member of our team to find out how we can help you with our day-to-day HR tasks and make more time for what you do best?