Holiday rights for different work patterns

Holidays can be difficult to calculate even if you work traditional hours. The following article outlines holiday rights based on different working patterns.



It’s holiday season and a holiday with several bank holidays. If you work irregular shifts or part-time hours, working out holiday entitlement can be difficult at the best of times, but many find it even more complicated when bank holidays are involved. outlines your rights below. The TUC is warning that holiday and other employment rights could change as a result of Brexit. While the Government has said European employment rights up until the point of departure will still apply following Brexit, the TUC is worried that the May deal would allow politicians to water down those rights in the future. No deal would have similar repercussions. Of course, politicians could also opt to strengthen employment rights. It will all depend on who is in power at any given time.

Holiday allowance

Under the EU Working Time Regulations 1998, workers including part-timers, most agency staff and freelance workers have the right to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave each year from 1 April 2009. This equates to 28 days of annual leave for someone working five days a week.

For part-timers, this translates into a pro rata equivalent comparable to full-time workers. This can be worked out by calculating 5.6 times your usual working week, for example 5.6 x 3 days is 16.8 days. Part-time workers who get more than the statutory allowance should work out their allowance with the same method. If you work shorter or longer than average days you will need to work out your entitlement in terms of hours worked. This website allows you to calculate your entitlement, but is based on full timers getting the statutory minimum of 28 days.

You begin to accrue your allowance from the first day of employment. Some employers have a set leave year, for example, April to March, so if an employee starts work mid-way through the leave year, the initial holiday entitlement is based on the period from that date until the leave year ends. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) says that, in most cases, employers will calculate entitlement for a part year pro-rata to the full year. So, if a worker begins work in July and the company’s leave year runs from April to March, the entitlement will be three quarters of the full entitlement for that year.

How do you calculate holiday for a term-time only worker?

Acas says that you need to work out how many hours the employee works on average over the whole year.

This can make it complicated. Acas offer the following example: “If the employee works 40 hours a week for 40 weeks of the year, they work a total of 1,600 hours a year. This works out at 34.48 hours a week over 46.4 weeks of the year (the 5.6 weeks statutory holiday entitlement are excluded from the average working week calculations). The employee’s holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks x 34.48 hours a week (over 46.4 weeks of the year) = 193.09 hours holiday for the year.”

Compressed hours

For someone working compressed hours, for example, a 36-hour week over four days instead of five, their annual holiday entitlement is 36 hours x 5.6 weeks = 201.6 hours holiday for the year.

Rather than taking a day’s holiday, they would take the number of hours that they would have otherwise worked on that day (i.e. for 36 hours worked over four days, they would take nine hours’ holiday for each day otherwise worked).

How do you calculate holiday for shift workers?

Acas explains that for regular shift workers it is sometimes easier to calculate how many shifts they get off. If a member of staff works four 12-hour shifts followed by four days off, the average working week is 3.5 12-hour shifts. So 5.6 weeks’ holiday is 5.6 x 3.5 = 19.6 12-hour shifts.

For members of staff  who work casually or irregular hours, Acas says it is often easiest to calculate holiday entitlement that accrues as hours are worked.

For example, the holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks is equivalent to 12.07 per cent of hours worked over a year. The 12.07 per cent figure is 5.6 weeks’ holiday, divided by 46.4 weeks (being 52 weeks – 5.6 weeks). The 5.6 weeks are excluded from the calculation as the worker would not be at work during those 5.6 weeks in order to accrue annual leave. So if someone works 10 hours, they are entitled to 72.6 minutes paid holiday (12.07/100 x 10 = 1.21 hours = 72.63 minutes).

Public and bank holidays

Many part-timers are confused as to their holiday rights when it comes to bank and public holidays. The law states that you do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. If you are a part-timer and your employer gives workers additional time off on bank holidays, this should be given pro rata to you as well, even if the bank holiday does not fall on your usual work day.

Holiday pay

Workers are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave entitlement. If a worker’s pay varies with the amount of work done then the amount of a week’s pay is the pay for the normal weekly working hours multiplied by the worker’s average hourly rate over the preceding 12 weeks.

Acas notes that shift and rota workers whose pay varies because they work their normal hours at varying times and in varying amounts in different weeks have their week’s pay calculated differently. Their average weekly hours of work, in the preceding 12 weeks, are multiplied by their average hourly rate. The hourly rate is calculated as above and includes any shift allowance which is payable.

If a worker has no normal working hours then a week’s pay is the average pay received over the preceding 12 weeks. Any week for which no pay was due should be replaced by the last previous week for which pay was due.

Notice and carrying leave over

Workers wishing to take leave should give notice. The default notice period must be twice as long as the period of leave requested (although an individual contract may state differently). For example, a worker wanting one week’s holiday needs to give two weeks’ notice. The employer can refuse permission by giving counter notice at least as long as the leave requested, i.e. one week.

Workers who do regular overtime are entitled to additional holiday pay.

The only time someone can get paid in place of taking statutory leave is when they leave their job.

A worker’s contract will state how much leave can be carried over from one holiday year to another. The maximum for those on 28 days leave is eight days. Women who cannot take their leave because they are on maternity leave can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next leave year.

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