Holiday rights for part timers: The Workingmums guide

Holiday entitlements can be confusing for part-timers who work shifts, part-days or part-weeks. Bank holidays cause more bafflement. Workingmums.co.uk has put together a guide on your rights to taking leave.

Your allowance:,

Under the 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 that get more than the statutory allowance should work out their allowance with the same method.

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.”

For term-time workers that don’t actually take annual leave during term time, the worker actually works 1,600 hours and accrues holiday on the whole 1,600 hours equally 193.09 hours’ holiday. However, if their contract requires them to take their annual leave only during term time they accrue holiday on the weeks (or hours) they actually work.

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 explain that for 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.

Whilst 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% 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).

How do you manage part days?

The advice from Acas is that holiday entitlements for some employees who work part-time may be made up of part days – for example, 22.4 days for someone working four days a week. Employees whose leave year starts before or after 1 April may also have holiday entitlements made up of part-days (see above). An employer can manage these part-days by:

  • taking the part-day off a day’s shift (an employee leaves early or comes in late)
  • rounding the time up to the nearest full day (the time cannot be rounded down)
  • paying the employee for the part-day owed
  • allowing the employee to carry over the part-day to the next leave year.

From 1 April 2009 payment in lieu cannot be provided for holidays over 20 days (for those working full-time).

Public and bank holidays:

Many part-timers are confused as to their holiday rights when it comes to bank and public holiday. 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 workers 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.

Any holiday entitlement over four weeks can now be carried over into the following leave year.

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.

In November the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that workers who do overtime should be entitled to additional holiday pay.




Comments [3]

  • L says:

    If I work Monday through Friday totalling 16 hours per week how many paid holidays am I entitled to?

  • Tracey Allen says:

    I am confused. Please could anyone help. I work term time only. I work 30 hours per week at £8 per hour. I only work 40 weeks of the year. My pay is paid over 12 months. Could anyone please work out my entitlement for holidays? I am not sure I am being paid correctly. Thank you in advance.


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