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View or download the Acas pdf  Advice leaflet - Holidays and holiday pay [164kb].

Note: This leaflet contains helpful information about holiday entitlement, but it does NOT yet contain information about overtime and holiday pay following the Employment Appeal Tribunal Ruling in Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton (and other joined cases) on 4 November 2014.

Key points

  • Most workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year (this is known as statutory entitlement).
  • Part time worker are entitled to the same amount of holiday (pro rota) as full time colleagues.
  • Employers can set the times when workers can take their leave - for example a Christmas shut down.
  • If employment ends workers have the right to be paid for any leave due but not taken.
  • There is no legal right to paid public holidays.

Once an employee starts work details of holidays and holiday pay entitlement should be found in the employee's written contract, where there is one, or a written statement of employment particulars given to employees by their employer.

Note: The written statement is required by law and must be given to employees by the employer no later than two months after the start of employment.

Most workers - whether part-time or full-time - are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a worker's contract. A week of leave should allow workers to be away from work for a week - i.e. it should be the same amount of time as the working week. If a worker does a five-day week, he or she is entitled to 28 days leave. However, for a worker who works 6 days a week the statutory entitlement is capped at 28 days. If they work a three-day week, the entitlement is 16.8 days leave. Employers can set the times that workers take their leave, for example for a Christmas shut down. If a worker's employment ends, they have a right to be paid for the leave due and not taken.

Public holidays

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays; any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker's contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.

Carrying leave over from one leave year to the next

Workers must take at least 4 weeks of statutory leave during the leave year, they may be able to carry over any  remaining time off  if their employer agrees. So if a worker gets 28 days of holiday, they may be able to carry over up to 8 days. Workers who receive statutory leave don't have an automatic right to carry leave over to the next holiday year, but employers may agree to it.

Workers who are entitled to contractual leave may be able to carry over time off  if the employer agrees, this agreement may be written into the terms and conditions of employment. For example if an employee gets 35 days of leave the employer may allow them to carry over up to 10 days as part of the terms of employment.

When workers are unable to take their leave entitlement because they're already taking time off for different reasons, such as maternity or sick leave, they can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next leave year. An employer must allow a worker to carry over a maximum of 20 days if the worker is off sick and therefore unable to take their leave.

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Plumb v Duncan Print Group Ltd 2015 the Tribunal held where an employee chooses not to take statutory annual leave during sick leave, they can carry forward the untaken leave for up to 18 months from the end of the leave year in which the leave arises. This means that if a leave year ends on the 31st December the worker would have 18 months after that date in which to take the annual leave for that year.

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