Due to the complexities of UK legislation and new requirements implemented during the coronavirus outbreak, many businesses find holiday entitlement intimidating.
According to the legislation, almost all workers who work a five-day week are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid vacation per year (otherwise known as leave entitlement or annual leave). This includes workers who work for agencies, those who work irregular hours, and those who work on a zero-hours contract.
The following are the most important aspects of the holiday entitlement rules:
- Part-time employees are entitled to the same vacation time as full-time employees (but this will amount to fewer than 28 days). You can use the government’s holiday entitlement calculator to figure this out.
- There is no requirement for a minimum duration of employment to be eligible for 5.6 weeks of yearly leave.
- Employers have the option of specifying the leave year.
- Those who work odd hours are entitled to paid time off for every hour.
- Employers can require employees to work on a bank holiday and take an annual vacation on a different day. Employers can also provide more than the required 5.6 weeks of leave.
- Employees should have their leave entitlement indicated in their employment contract, and they should begin accruing leave as soon as they start working.
- Employers can define (in writing) the amount of notice that must be given before taking leave. If not, the notice period reverts to the legal minimum (which is twice the period of leave being requested)
- Employers have the legal right to manage when employees take time off, especially if it may hurt them.
- Employees on maternity, paternity, or adoption leave will continue to earn vacation time.
>See also: HR for start-ups: What You Need to Know
Coronavirus and holiday leftovers
- Except for adopting new carryover restrictions, the Coronavirus does not affect workers’ holiday pay and vacation eligibility. Furloughed employees are eligible to accrue leave in the same way as they would if they were working.
- The contract should specify how many days of leave an employee can roll over into the following year. If a worker is given 28 days of vacation, they can carry over a maximum of eight days. Employers can allow employees to carry over additional untaken leave if given more than 28 days (again, depending on their contract).
- Workers can now roll over untaken leave into the next two years if they cannot take it due to coronavirus exposure at work (depending on industry and company policy). This includes things like covering for coworkers, not being able to take time off because it would disrupt the business if everyone went on leave at the same time, or being classed as vital workers who are needed during the epidemic.
- Suppose an employee cannot use all of their vacation time due to another type of leave (such as maternity or sick leave). They may be eligible to carry over some or all of their unused vacation time into the following year.
- Employers are required by law to enable workers to carry over a maximum of 20 days from their 28 days if they were unable to take any annual leave during the leave year due to illness.
>See also: The Law on Variable Employee Contracts.
Payment instead of vacation
- Unless the employee’s employment contract has been ended, employers cannot replace statutory vacation entitlement with money in lieu.
- Employees should be paid holiday pay at the same rate as regular pay, which should be stipulated in the employment contract.
How to Calculate Holiday Pay
Employers are also responsible for calculating holiday pay. Remember that employees are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave taken. As a result, most people are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid vacation per year.
Employers must look at the hours employees work and how they are paid to determine what a week’s compensation is. This applies to full-time, part-time, term-time, and casual employees. A good holiday calculator is available from the government.
- Fixed-hours and fixed-paid employees (full-time or part-time): a worker’s wage for a full week.
- Those who work shifts with fixed hours (full or part-time): estimated based on the average weekly fixed hours worked in the previous 52 weeks (based on their average hourly rate)
- Those who work no set hours (including those on a zero-hour contract): the average compensation for the last 52 weeks (but only including the weeks they were paid)
How far in advance do you need to arrange a vacation?
There is a basic rule regarding the amount of notice required to schedule time off. This is the same amount of time as the desired leave plus one day. So, for two days of vacation, an employee would give four days’ notice.
The same principle applies in reverse. Employers can decline or cancel vacation requests, but they must do so with at least as much notice as the amount of leave requested (plus one day) unless the work contract specifies otherwise.
Controlling when people take vacations
Employers can advise their employees when they can take a vacation (such as Christmas and bank holidays). They can also limit when employees can take time off, such as during peak business seasons. This should be spelled forth in the employment agreement. Restricted leave requires at least twice as much notice as they leave the employee wishes to take. Employees cannot be forced to take sick leave by their employers.
Bespoke HR’s managing director is Alison King.