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Accruing and carrying over holiday entitlement

When you start a job you start accruing or ‘accumulating’ your holiday entitlement. Whatever you get, you must take a minimum four weeks of holiday every year. Your employer will decide whether you can carry over any untaken leave days into the next holiday year.

Leave years and accruals

Leave years

Your ‘leave year’ or ‘holiday year’ is a term that is used to describe the period in which your employer expects you to take your annual leave. In your contract of employment you may have an agreement with your employer about when your holiday year starts, for example it could be from the 1 January to 31 December for everyone in the organisation. If you do not have an agreement then your year will start:

  • on 23 November 1998 (if you started work before then)
  • on the date you started work (if you started work after 23 November 1998)

If you start a new job part way through a leave year then you will be entitled to a part of your leave, depending on how long is left in the leave year.

For example, if you start half way through the leave year then you will be entitled to half of your leave, increasing to the full amount when the new leave year begins. This will then be reset at the start of the new leave year. Also, if you leave your job part way through a leave year you will be entitled to a part of your leave.


Some employers run an 'accrual' system, where holiday entitlement is built up over the first year of employment. This means that for every month you work, you become entitled to one twelfth of your annual entitlement. So, after six months, you would be entitled to a half of your annual entitlement. Accrual normally continues during legal absences like maternity leave.

Carrying over holidays

You do not have a right to carry leave over, but if you don't take all of your legal holiday entitlement during your holiday year, your employer may allow you to carry over the leftover days to the next holiday year. You must take at least four weeks’ holiday a year, so only holiday on top of this (including the new extra days) can be carried over and then only if your employer gives you permission or if this is permitted by your contract of employment.

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