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If you are looking for a comprehensive overview of holiday entitlement, you’ve come to the right place. Well cover what it is, how it works for various types of workers, and how to accurately calculate holiday entitlement.

What is holiday entitlement?

Holiday entitlement, also known as annual leave, is the amount of paid time off that your employees are legally entitled to take each year. This entitlement is designed to make sure that they can rest and recharge, promoting their overall wellbeing and productivity. 

What is the legal holiday entitlement in the UK?

Under UK law, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year. This equates to 28 days for someone working a five-day week. This statutory entitlement includes bank holidays.

How to work out holiday entitlement 

Holiday entitlement varies based on the number of hours or days your employee works each week. 
Here are the most common scenarios: 

For full-time employees

Full-time employees (who work five days a week) are entitled to the standard UK holiday allowance of 5.6 weeks of annual leave per year. This equates to a minimum of 28 days (5 days x 5.6 weeks) of paid leave annually. 
You may choose to offer more than the statutory minimum, but you can’t offer less. 

For part-time workers

Part-time workers are entitled to the same 5.6 weeks of holiday, but this is calculated on a pro-rata basis. 
For example, if your employee works three days a week, their entitlement would be 3 days per week x 5.6 weeks = 16.8 days.

For new starters

For employees who start partway through the year, their entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis.

This means they are entitled to a portion of the full annual leave, based on the number of complete months they will work in the holiday year. 

This is how to calculate the proportion of the holiday year they will work:

  1. Determine the number of full months remaining in the holiday year. 
  2. Divide by 12: for example, if your employee starts in September and your holiday year runs from January to December, they will work 4 out of the 12 months of the year. 
  3. Multiply by the annual entitlement: so, assuming your employee is a full-time worker: 4/12 x 28 days = 9.33 days. 

Try our holiday entitlement calculator here.

For leavers

When an employee leaves your organisation, they are entitled to be paid for any accrued but unused holiday leave. This is calculated up to their final working day.

If they have taken more leave than they have accrued, you can deduct the excess from their final pay, provided this is stipulated in their contract.

This is how to calculate the proportion of the holiday year they have worked:

  1. Calculate the number of months worked in the holiday year. 
  2. Divide by 12: If your employee leaves at the end of May, they will have worked 5 out of the 12 months of the year. 
  3. Multiply by the annual entitlement: for a full-time worker, 5/12 x 28 days = 11.66 days. 
  4. Subtract any holidays already taken: if your employee has already taken 5 days, then they are entitled to 11.66 – 5 = 6.66 days of paid leave.


When does holiday entitlement reset?

Holiday entitlement typically resets at the start of the employer’s designated holiday year. This can vary between organisations but is commonly set to align with the calendar year (1 January to 31 December) or the financial year (1 April to 31 March). Employers should clearly communicate the holiday year period to their employees in their contracts or company handbook. 

What is holiday accrual?

Holiday accrual is the process by which employees earn their holiday entitlement over time, usually in proportion to the amount of time they have worked. For example, if an employee is entitled to 28 days of holiday per year, they accrue this entitlement monthly, giving them 2.33 days of leave per month worked. This is particularly relevant for new starters or leavers, whose entitlement is calculated based on the actual time they have worked during the holiday year. 

Can an employer refuse a holiday request?

Yes, an employer can refuse a holiday request for a specific period, but they cannot prevent workers from taking their statutory holiday entitlement. If leave is refused, the employer must provide notice that is equal to the length of the requested time off. 

Can employees carry over leave? 

Yes, employees can carry over leave, but it depends on the employer’s policy as stated in the employee’s contract. If allowed, an employee could have additional days available in the new year. However, automatic carry-over is not guaranteed unless specified in the contract. Exceptions include long-term leave such as maternity, adoption, or long-term sickness. In these cases, employees can carry over 5.6 weeks for maternity or adoption leave and four weeks for long-term sick leave.

How much holiday am I entitled to?

In the UK, full-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days of paid holiday per year. This includes the 8 bank holidays. Part-time workers get a pro-rated amount based on the number of days they work each week. To calculate holiday entitlement, you can use this formula:

Number of days worked per week x 5.6 = Holiday entitlement in days 

For example, if you work 3 days a week, you’d be entitled to 16.8 days of holiday per year. 

Let us help you manage holiday entitlement 

We know that keeping on top of your employees’ annual leave requests can feel like a lot, especially in summertime.

Our fully integrated HR and payroll software will help you streamline the entire process. Time-off requests can be easily submitted and approved in line with employee schedules and your anticipated workload. 

 Book a personalised demo today.