Leave Management

How Much Annual Leave Should I Get?

Understanding employee rights to annual leave in the UK...
Sean QuinnPosted on Thursday, March 16th 2023

What is statutory annual leave in the UK?

In the UK, employees have a legal right to paid leave whether they are full time, part time or 'zero hours' workers. Statutory annual leave entitlement for a full time worker in the UK is 28 days, equivalent to 5.6 weeks.

Usually, this is made up of the 8 permanent Bank Holidays given to all regions of the UK, plus 20 additional days to be taken whenever employees request. However, it's up to businesses to decide whether Bank Holidays are given as part of an employee's statutory entitlement, as Bank Holidays do not have to be given as paid leave by law.

How is annual leave entitlement calculated for part time workers?

Part time employees have the same entitlement to 5.6 weeks off as full time employees, but the number of actual days of paid leave they receive will depend on their usual 'work week', so will be fewer than a full time employee.

To calculate part time entitlement, multiply the number of days an employee works per week by 5.6. For example, an employee who works 2 days per week would be entitled to 11.2 days of paid holiday throughout the leave year.

Is there a limit on statutory leave entitlement?

The limit for statutory annual leave allowance is 28 days (equivalent to 5.6 weeks when working a 5 day week), even if an employee works more than 5 days a week. However, there is no limit to the number of additional days an employer can offer, though these may come with additional rules or restrictions.

Businesses may offer additional days of annual leave for each year of service, or may offer a 'buy back' or 'holiday purchase' scheme where extra days can be bought by employees. Some businesses even offer unlimited paid time off, which means employees theoretically have no limit to their leave entitlement, so long as management agree to their requests.

What is statutory leave entitlement for employees who work irregular hours?

If a worker is on an ongoing employment contract but works irregular hours, they're still entitled to the full statutory leave entitlement. Examples of this include teachers who work full time for the 39 weeks of term but are employed for the whole year, and shift workers who work a '2 week on, 2 week off' pattern. This is often known as 'part year' work, and as the employment contract is in place for the whole year, these employees should receive the full 5.6 'weeks' of paid holiday (the actual number of days given will depend on what an average week looks like).

When does annual leave have to be taken?

Annual leave entitlement usually has to be taken within the leave year it relates to. Employers may allow employees to carry over a certain amount of leave to the next year if they have entitlement remaining, but they are not required to - unless an employee was unable to take their leave in the relevant year as they were already on parental leave or long term sick leave.

Do Bank Holidays count towards annual leave?

In the UK, your employer may choose to make the 8 permanent Bank Holidays (10 in NI, and 9 in Scotland) part of your statutory 28 days of annual leave. This usually means you'll be forced to take those dates off work, and will need to use your remaining leave entitlement to book other holidays during the year. If Bank Holidays aren't part of your leave entitlement, you may be asked to work as normal, but you can still take your full statutory 28 days of annual leave on other dates as you wish. An employee's contract should stipulate whether Bank Holidays are included in their statutory entitlement, or given in addition.

Read more about employees rights and the rules surrounding their working time in the UK. The information provided here is intended as a guide only and is our best interpretation of current legislation - it is not intended as legal advice.

Ready to save your
business time and money?