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How much annual leave are employees entitled to?

How much annual leave are employees entitled to?

Full-time employees are legally entitled to 28 days (5.6 weeks) paid holiday each year minimum, and this can include bank holidays. For part-time employees holiday, please refer to our briefing on calculating part-time employee holiday allowance.  

Does holiday accrue during a notice period?

Yes. Employees continue to accrue holiday entitlement while they are still in employment. 

Can employees carry over untaken annual leave?

Employees must take at least four weeks of leave per year, stipulated under Working Time Regulations. If an employee gets 28 days' leave (the minimum period of leave entitlement), they may be able to carry over up to eight days, subject to the contract of employment. If the employee gets in excess of 28 days' annual leave entitlement, the employer may allow the employee to carry over some of that entitlement, subject to the employment contract or company policies.

In March 2020, the government updated the 'Working Time Regulations' to allow employers and employees to agree to carry over up to four weeks' annual leave into the next two holiday years. This is designed to help where it has not been reasonably practicable for employees to take their holiday entitlement, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (subject to prevailing rules).

Can an employer require an employee to use some of their holiday? 

The law allows an employer to require employees to take their holiday at specified times, as long as they give notice that is twice the length of time off that they want the employee to take. For example, if the employer requires the employee to take one weeks' leave, it must give the employee at least two weeks' notice. It is always preferable, of course, for an employee to take holiday at a time that is mutually convenient.

What happens to holiday entitlement when an employee is absent due to sickness or family-related leave? 

An employee's contract of employment remains in force, and annual leave continues to accrue. 

Are all employees automatically entitled to bank holidays as paid time off?

No. An employment contract can provide that an employee is obliged to work on bank holidays, as many retail businesses (for example) trade on these days. As long as the employee is getting the statutory minimum amount (or more) in a leave year, this is permitted.

What should I do next?

If you need further advice or a have a specific situation you’d like to discuss, please get in touch.


First published 28 January 2021
Last Updated 28 January 2021

28 January 2021
First published.

Find out more about Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty is a HR Advisor in our HR team