Holiday – what is my entitlement?

In the United Kingdom there are legal minimum entitlements to paid holiday. They are enshrined into UK law under the European Working Time Directive and additional UK entitlements. In addition there may be additional contractual entitlements.

Workers and employees are entitled to an annual minimum of 5.6 paid weeks

UK Employment or worker contracts that attempt to reduce entitlements to a lower amount are in breach of employment rights law and are denying the individual of their legal rights.

Entitlements are set out in the UK Working Time Directive under:

– regulation 13 which provides for 4 weeks paid leave to meet European legal requirements. Using a 5 day week this equates to a 20 day entitlement.

– regulation 13a which provides for an additional 1.6 weeks paid leave entitlement, although this may be used to cover (optionally) public and bank holidays. Using a 5 day week this equates to an additional 8 days entitlement.

Does 5.6 paid holiday weeks apply to everyone?

Pretty much. Salaried, part time, irregular hours and even zero hours workers have the entitlement. It applies to every employee or worker. Even term time workers have the entitlement if employed for the holiday year.

So what is the entitlement based on? The entitlement basis is the amount of elapsed time someone is employed in the designated holiday year. How much of the year they turned up for work or how many hours or days worked has limited relevance.

For example, an employee who works 40 hours a week for each working week in the year is entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave. A part time employee who only works 5 hours a week is also entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave per holiday year. A zero hours worker who is in continuous employment for the full year and is given occasional hours here and there is also entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave. These are the requirements of the application of the working time directive law.

Some may think that provides an inequitable result! The intention of the law is to provide a right to paid leave.

So does that result in all types receiving an equivalent weekly holiday pay? Entitlement to leave – yes, payment amounts – NO. When it comes to taking the leave – Pay is based on an average of actual pay within weeks that form part of the legally required calculation (up to 52 paid weeks over the past 104 weeks ignoring zero pay weeks).

The law expressly forbids the inclusion in the average of any weeks without pay. So employers may need to consider and plan their workforce management to ensure no inadvertent breach or underpayments.

So what is my minimum annual holiday pay entitlement? Its 5.6 paid weeks each holiday year.



Statistics published in 2019 show that around 1.8 million UK workers are being denied their legal entitlement to paid holiday leave.

From the questions asked on: social media, WhatsApp groups, linked in and enquiries, it is clear that holiday rights are not understood and many employers may inadvertently denying their workers the legal right to the correct amount of annual leave and pay. A significant number of occupational holiday schemes may be operating incorrectly – they are wrong!

Most vulnerable are lower paid workers such as zero hours workers and irregular or casual hours. The government is progressing plans to appoint a single enforcer with the powers, beyond the current redress via employment tribunal, to apply action similar to National Minimum Wage enforcements. Is it time for employers to review and validate their holiday scheme rules to ensure that they are not breaching employment rights.

PAYadvice.UK 20/10/2020 updated 21/10/2020

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