Your basic 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 accrue your holiday entitlement throughout your ordinary and additional maternity leave and paternity and adoption leave
- Bank holidays
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.
Calculating holiday entitlement
You can calculate your statutory holiday entitlement for full or part years based on the set days or hours you work. You can also find out how much holiday you're entitled to if you start or leave a job part way through the leave year.
For a basic calculation of your leave allowance multiply the number of days you work a week by 5.6.
For example, if you work a five day week you would be entitled to 28 days' annual leave a year.
- 5 days x 5.6 weeks = 28 days
If you're a part-time worker, you're still entitled to 5.6 x the number of days in your normal working week.
For example, if you work two days a week you would be entitled to 11.2 days' leave a year:
2 days x 5.6 weeks = 11.2 days
You should be treated no less favourably if you are a part-time worker than an equivalent full-timer. This means that if your employer gives extra days off to full-timers they may have to give extra time off to part-time workers as well.
If you are an agency worker, you are entitled to the statutory minimum leave entitlement. Your agency must allow you to take your paid holidays.
Casual or irregular working patterns
If you work casually, term-time or irregular hours it may be easier to calculate the holiday entitlement that accrues (accumulates) as hours are worked.
The holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks is equivalent to 12.07 per cent of hours worked. The 12.07 per cent figure is 5.6 weeks' holiday, divided by 46.4 weeks (52 weeks - 5.6 weeks) and multiplied by 100 = 12.07 per cent.
If you work irregular hours you can find out how many hours you're entitled to at the following link:
If you are a shift worker your leave is calculated by using an average of your shifts over a 12 week period.
For example, if you always work four 12-hour shifts, followed by four days off , then the average working week is three-and-a-half 12-hour shifts. You would be entitled to 19.6 shifts of 12 hours as annual leave a year:
- 5.6 weeks x 3.5 shifts = 19.6 12 hour shifts
For other shift patterns, it may be easiest to calculate according to the established pattern of repeat.
What to do if you have problems
Holiday is a legal right which your employer is obliged to give you. 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.