Holidays: A guide for employers

Navigating the law on holidays is not easy. Here is a brief guide highlighting some of the key issues.

Statutory holiday

Workers are usually entitled to paid statutory minimum holiday.

A worker is a person who provides work or services, personally, and is not in business themselves. Workers are entitled to certain rights including the national minimum wage and statutory minimum holiday. The worker category includes employees.

There have been a number of recent cases brought be people working in the gig economy, claiming worker status and associated rights.

The statutory holiday entitlement for workers is 5.6 weeks’ each year. People who are working five days a week would be entitled to 28 days leave. People who are working part-time would have 28 days’ leave pro-rated calculated by reference to how many days per week they work.

Bank and public holidays are included, and workers do not have rights to take annual leave on those days.


Notice is required if a worker wishes to take statutory holiday. The notice that the worker has to provide needs to be at least twice as long as the length of the period of leave asked for. That means that if someone requests five days’ leave the person must provide a minimum ten days’ notice.

Providing an employer provides the correct notice, an employer can refuse the holiday request. The required length of minimum notice is as many days ahead of the holiday as how many days that the employer is not allowing.

A worker is not normally able to carry over holiday into the next leave year. There are, however, a few exceptions, including when employees are on maternity leave or long-term sickness absence.

The European Court of Justice has held that in situations where workers are not allowed to exercise their rights to paid leave they can claim for their entire period of work. The particular case is to be heard by the Court of Appeal for further consideration.

The rules regarding holiday claims are complicated, and specific advice should be sought.



Holiday pay

According to EU law and recent interpretations in the UK Courts, the first four weeks of any statutory annual leave each year must be calculated on the basis of normal remuneration which should include:


Under UK law, there are rules for calculating statutory holiday pay – which depend on whether the worker is: a) working normal working hours which do not vary b) working normal working hours which do vary or c) not working normal hours.

Contractual holiday

These requirements do not apply to contractual holiday over and above statutory minimum holiday though having different calculations could cause administrative challenges for employers.

The law on holiday entitlement and holiday pay is notoriously complicated, and has been in a state of flux for some time. There are plenty of other matters to grapple with too, and if you are in any doubt you should obtain specific legal advice.

This guide is intended for guidance only and should not be relied upon for specific advice.

If you have any queries relating to holidays or need advice on other employment law queries please do not hesitate to contact me on  0203 797 1264.

Do check mattgingell.com regularly for updated information.


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