Employee Holiday Entitlement

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The entitlement of employees to paid annual holiday is governed both by the contract of employment and by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). The WTR provides for a basic entitlement, the contract of employment may offer greater rights.

The WTR gives rights to “workers” – defined to include employees and those working under a contract to personally provide services as follows:

  1. Each full-time worker over 18 years of age has an entitlement to 5.6 weeks paid holiday in each year (Public holidays can count towards this entitlement).
  2. Part time workers have the same entitlement i.e. 5.6 of their normal working week, so a worker working 2 days a week is entitled to 11.2 days paid holiday a year.
  3. The entitlement to leave accrues during the year so that a worker who serves (say) six months gains a proportion of their entitlement.
  4. A worker is not entitled to carry annual leave entitlement forward without agreement.
  5. The entitlement to pay during holiday is generally to a basic weeks pay, not including overtime, though this may depend upon the wording of the Contract of Employment.
  6. An employer is not entitled to insist that he provide pay in lieu of annual leave but on termination of employment the employer must pay for leave entitlement accrued but not taken.
  7. People working irregular hours - eg shift workers can calculate their entitlement on a gov.uk website.

In the event that an employer fails to comply with his obligations under the WTR the employee may complain to an Employment Tribunal (there is a strict time limit of three months after which the claim is barred). The Tribunal has discretion to award compensation –either for unpaid holiday pay – or for losses suffered by the worker because of inability to exercise their holiday entitlement.



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Quintin Barry

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Chris Kingham

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