Do I have to give my employees paid holiday?

Whether staff are employed on a full-time, part-time, flexible or zero-hours contract, they are entitled to statutory holiday pay. This includes agency workers too.

Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave a year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.

Bank holidays are counted as a normal working day and do not have to be given as paid leave.

If the worker is part time or works irregular hours, this figure is apportioned accordingly. For example, if they work 3 days a week, they must get at least 16.8 days’ leave a year (3 × 5.6).

People working irregular hours (like shift workers or term-time workers) are entitled to paid time off for every hour they work.

Working patternHow a week’s pay is calculated
Fixed hours and fixed pay (full- or part-time)A worker’s pay for a week
Shift work with fixed hours (full- or part-time)The average number of weekly fixed hours a worker has worked in the previous 52 weeks, at their average hourly rate
No fixed hours (casual work, including zero-hours contracts)A worker’s average pay from the previous 52 weeks (only counting weeks in which they were paid, go back for a maximum 104 weeks)

For leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, there is a new accrual method for irregular hour workers and part-year workers in the first year of employment and beyond. Holiday entitlement for these workers will be calculated as 12.07% of actual hours worked in a pay period.

The regulations allow employers to use rolled-up holiday pay as an additional method for calculating holiday pay for irregular hour and part-year workers only, for leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024. Rolled-up holiday pay allows employers to include an additional amount with every payslip to cover a worker’s holiday pay, as opposed to paying holiday pay when a worker takes annual leave.

Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. For example, staff working 6 days a week are only entitled to a maximum 28 days’ paid holiday.

If staff are off work through sickness, adoption leave, maternity leave or paternity leave they still accrue holiday at the same rate.

You can offer more paid holiday than the statutory minimum if you wish.

The general notice period for taking leave is at least twice as long as the amount of leave a worker wants to take, plus 1 day. For example, a worker would give 3 days’ notice for 1 day’s leave.

Employers can:

  • tell their staff to take leave, for example bank holidays or Christmas
  • restrict when leave can be taken, for example at certain busy periods

Staff start to accrue holiday entitlement from their first day of employment.

Working out how much holiday a worker is due can be very complex. Please contact us for assistance.