We’re in that special time of year where it feels like there is always a holiday on the horizon – we’ve just had Easter, May Day Bank Holiday is just around the corner and then it’s not long until the special long Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June.

We all appreciate our paid time off but as an employer, what are your obligations to your employees so they can enjoy time away from work?

Statutory leave entitlement

Full time workers are entitled to at least 28 days holiday – or 5.6 weeks per year which includes bank holidays. In a normal year, we get 8 bank holidays so full timers get a minimum of 4 weeks holiday each year plus bank holidays.

Part time workers entitlement is calculated on a pro rata basis and this can be quite tricky to work out – they are still entitled to 5.6 weeks but the number of days they are away from work is calculated based on how many days they would normally work. So they still get 5.6 weeks of holiday but not as many as 28 days. Luckily, there is a handy leave calculator here to make it easier.

The calculator is also useful if you have an employee who is full time but has started mid-way through your annual leave year and so, in their first year of employment, isn’t entitled to their full allowance.

Flexible workers

If your employees don’t work regular hours or are on a zero hours contract, they still accrue holiday entitlement, but it is calculated in a different way. They ‘earn’ holiday time for every hour they work and can then chose to take that holiday when they want.

Holidays over legal minimum

Employers are free to reward their employees with as much paid time off as they want. In fact, some large employers are even offering employees unlimited holiday time and trust their teams to use that benefit responsibly.

Additional holiday days can also be used as an incentive or reward for service – an employee might get an extra day’s holiday each year as they pass their anniversary of joining the company.

Holiday policies within your organisation

There are a number of other considerations regarding holiday and holiday pay that businesses need to address and ideally, write policy for.

A key one is around the amount of notice that is required before any holiday is taken. If a worker wants just one or two days holiday, the notice required for that might not be very long. On the other hand, if they want to take a fortnight’s summer holiday, especially if it’s at a popular time for holidays, then more notice might be needed. It’s also important to remind your employees that they shouldn’t book a holiday until they have had their leave signed off.

Sometimes an employee won’t have taken all of their entitled leave in the year and so they have days left over. Whilst this should be discouraged, sometimes it’s unavoidable and so there should to be a policy around how many days can be carried forward to the next year. Typically, this might be no more than 5 days – an amount that won’t cause too much disruption but also gives workers the chance to save up some leave for something special like a honeymoon.

It is also possible, with agreement, to pay staff for untaken leave. Again, there should be a policy for this and the number of days kept to a minimum; time away from the workplace is so important for physical and mental health that swapping it for money doesn’t help anyone.

We hope you all enjoy the bank holiday weekend and any other holidays you have coming up. If you need any help with holiday pay, or anything connected to payroll, just get in touch.