It’s heading into the holiday season in the UK. Just how much Annual Leave can employees expect?

29/11: It’s heading into the holiday season in the UK. This is a time when some employees like to take their Annual Leave, or a part of it, to relax during festive and New Year activities. But many employees are not sure how much holiday leave they are due.

According the annual leave laws in the UK, almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ (28 days) paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or Annual Leave). Most workers who work a five-day week must receive 28 days’ paid annual leave per year. This is calculated by multiplying a normal working week (five days) by the annual entitlement of 5.6 weeks. Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. Staff working six days a week are only entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday and not 33.6 days (5.6 multiplied by 6). Workers do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. If paid leave is given on a bank or public holiday, this can count towards the 5.6 weeks minimum holiday entitlement. 

Workers can take Annual Leave in installments/parts however, the leave must be taken in the year it became due (i.e. it cannot be carried over to next year) and worker may not accept a payment in lieu of leave except in the case of employment termination.

In addition, workers have the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week, or 48 hours each fortnight. A worker’s employment contract may say they are entitled to more or different rights to breaks from work. 

A few notes:

  • The 28 day minimum is among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 33 days
  • Interestingly, in a survey taken two years ago, almost a third of British workers did not take their full holiday entitlement - as heavy workloads, schedule clashes and anxiety about taking time off work left people sitting at their desks.
  • Trade unions have warned that millions of British workers could lose their right to extra holiday pay due to Brexit. One in four UK workers, more than 7.4 million, have received extra paid holiday rights as a result of European laws, say the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Post-Brexit, there is no guarantee paid holiday entitlements will be kept at their current level, if at all.

Find out more about Annual Leave in the UK