’s guide to flexible holiday rights

Do you work part time, term time, zero hours, annualised hours or any other non-standard way of working? Here we explain your holiday entitlement if you do.

Annual Leave


Over the summer there has been news of a Supreme Court ruling on part-year working such as term-time contracts. The ruling will change the way some employers have been calculating annual leave for those on these contracts. It has highlighted the complexities of holiday entitlement for those who don’t work traditional working patterns. Here we explain how holiday entitlement is worked out for different working patterns.

The minimum statutory holiday entitlement for full timers is 28 days which may include bank holidays. Bank holidays do not have to be given as extra, but if they are given as extra to full timers any flexible workers are entitled to a pro-rata of what full timers get. The Government has an online calculator where you can calculate your entitlement based on the minimum holiday entitlement.

Part-Time working

For part-timers who work, say, two or three full days a week holiday entitlement is fairly straightforward. You are entitled to a pro-rata of whatever full timers at your organisation get, so, for example, if you work two full days a week and full timers work five days a week you would get two fifths of whatever full timers at your organisation get, including bank holidays – irrespective of which days you work. People sometimes get confused due to the bank holidays because most fall on Mondays. If you are part time and work on Mondays, your work closes on bank holidays and you are forced to take the day off as paid leave you will have less choice over when you take your holidays. However, that doesn’t mean that you will have less holiday.

Compressed hours

If you work compressed hours you should calculate your holiday in terms of hours worked so if you work the same amount of hours as full-time workers you should get the same number of hours in holiday [rather than days], including bank holidays. For each day’s holiday you would need to deduct the number of hours you normally work in that day.

Term time or part-year hours [including casual working]

You can work out holiday entitlement by calculating hours worked annually, adding the 5.6 week amount and then paying people a twelfth of the full amount each month to avoid lower payments in the summer. Some employers have been using what is known as the 12.07% method where they pro rata holiday. 12.07% represents the proportion that 5.6 weeks of annual leave equates to throughout the year. Employers have then paid term time workers 12.07% of their pay for the term as holiday pay. This has now been declared illegal and employers are no longer allowed to pro rata pay in this way for part-year workers. Instead, employers should use the “Calendar Week Method” based on the average weekly pay received during the 52-week period prior to the employee taking the annual leave, ignoring weeks where the employee did not work.

Shift workers

If shifts are the same weekly you can work your leave entitlement out based on a pro rata of full-time workers’ holidays. If shift patterns vary, you will need to work this out over a longer period, according to an established repeating pattern.

This is calculated as the lower of:

a) 5.6 weeks x average shifts per week; or
b) 28 days’ worth of shifts

Average shifts per week are calculated as: (Shifts per shift pattern ÷ Calendar days per shift pattern) x 7

Shorter days

If you work a fraction of a day you would need to work out your holiday in terms of hours worked in a week and pro rata this compared to what a full-time worker in your organisation works. You would get a pro rata of bank holidays too.

Zero hours

If you are on a zero hours contracts, holiday entitlement accrues in the same way as for those on permanent contracts. However, due to the sometimes irregular nature of hours, it is often easier to calculate it based on hours worked.

Leave years

When a worker starts a job, the timing of their leave year may be specified in a relevant agreement. If the worker’s leave year is not specified in an agreement, then it simply starts on the first day of the job. You will get a pro rata of your  annual leave entitlement if your start after the beginning of the annual leave year.

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