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Holiday entitlements: the basics

All workers have a statutory right to at least 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, which is 28 days paid holiday if you work five days a week. Your employer could choose to include bank holidays in the 5.6 weeks.

The basics of holiday rights

There is a minimum right to paid holiday, but your employer may offer more than this. The main things you should know about holiday rights are:

  • you are entitled to 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.
  • you start building up holiday as soon as you start work
  • your employer can control when you take your holiday
  • you get paid your normal pay for your holiday
  • when you finish a job, you get paid for any holiday you’ve not taken
  • bank and public holidays can be included in your minimum entitlement
  • you continue to be entitled to your holiday leave throughout your ordinary and additional maternity leave and paternity and adoption leave
  • Calculating holiday entitlement
  • Taking your holidays
  • Bank holidays (government, citizens and rights section)

In order to qualify for the right to annual leave you need to be classed as a worker. If you’re self-employed, you have no statutory right to paid annual leave.

Contractual holiday rights

Your employer may give you more than the minimum 5.6 weeks leave as part of your terms of employment. You can check how much leave you are allowed by referring to your contract or company handbook. You have no right to additional holiday, even if it's unpaid, unless your contract provides for it.

Your employer can set their own rules on any holidays they give over and above the legal minimum. Your employer is not allowed to give you less than the legal minimum.

Public holidays and bank holidays

You do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays. If your employer gives paid leave on a bank or public holiday, this can count towards your minimum holiday entitlement. In Northern Ireland there are 10 bank holidays and public holidays If you work on a bank or public holiday, there is no automatic right to an enhanced pay rate. What you get paid depends on your contract of employment.

If you are part-time 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.

What can you do if you have problems?

If you're not getting your full holiday entitlement, speak to your employer. If you have an employee representative, a trade union official for example, you can ask for their help. Follow the procedures given in the section 'sorting out work problems' which should help you. If this section doesn't help, you can complain to an industrial tribunal. The Labour Relations Agency offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues.

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