What's the minimum annual leave for your staff?

Are you unsure about employee holiday entitlement? BrightHR has the answers for accruing leave, holidays, and any leave that employers should pay for

We all like our holidays - well it is one of the reasons we go to work, the enjoyment of taking time off to spend with friends and family.  But how much annual leave are people entitled to and what should HR Managers be advising their organisations?

In simple terms when looking at the legal entitlement to annual leave in the UK it is clear that according the main regulations governing working time, the Working Time Regulations (WTR) (1998) employees have the following entitlements:

  • a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (28 days for someone working five days a week)
  • those working part-time are entitled to the same level of holiday pro rata, currently this is 5.6 times your usual working week for example. 22.4 days for someone working four days a week

Source: NI Direct www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/holiday-entitlements

As HR Managers you can advise employers that they can choose to include bank holidays with in the 5.6 weeks annual leave, however if the company you represent choose not to do this then there is no legal right to paid public holidays.  This has been the case in a number of organisations I have worked for and you should be making this entitlement clear in your contracts of employment.

How to accrue Annual Leave

Individuals will start to accrue annual leave as soon as they start working within your companies.  If they commence employment part way through the holiday year or are on a fixed term contract then as HR Managers will need to advise and calculate this accordingly.

The CIPD (2015) advises HR Managers to take great care when calculating the accrual of annual leave, especially if the individuals earn regular payments such as overtime.   When calculating leave and holiday pay this should be based on your normal weekly wage (excluding non-guaranteed overtime), however if an individual’s pay regularly fluctuates employers should be advised to pay an average weekly wage based on the previous 12 weeks worked (Source: NI Direct, 2015). Remember to calculate leave for those individuals who are on long term sick and maternity leave.

When can people take holidays?

It is not acceptable for people to assume they can just book annual leave at a moment’s notice.  As a HR Manager you need to be clear within the business about this point and have a policy, procedure and process for annual leave booking.  This should include an approval process by the line manager, as stated by the CIPD (2015) ‘your employer can control when you take your holiday’.  When advising your companies on the amount of notice individuals should give when booking leave, the good practice guidance offered by NI Direct (2015) is that ‘the notice should be at least twice as long as the amount of holiday you want to take’.

In your capacity as HR Manager you can also advise your businesses that they can decide when some or all of individual’s annual leave can be taken.  This could cover things such as Christmas shut down and can either be a contractual term or it can be built up over time.

Are there any other types of leave employers should be paying for?

In answer to this that is entirely up to the individual policies in place in the businesses where you work, and there will be statutory payments applicable for some leave such as paternity.  As HR Managers you need to be aware that employers are obliged to provide the provision of special leave in certain cases which include:

  • carrying out public duties
  • court service
  • trade union duties and activities
  • military training
  • parental leave

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