Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Take more time off, it’s the law

Workers' statutory holiday entitlement increases from tomorrow to 5.6 weeks' paid leave

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 most workers had a statutory right to four weeks’ paid holiday.

From October 1, 2007 this increased to 4.8 weeks’ and from tomorrow it will increase again to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave.

If a worker works five days a week 5.6 weeks means 28 days’ from April 1, 2009. If a worker works more than five days a week their paid holiday is capped at 28 days.

If a worker works fewer than five days the statutory amount of days is calculated on a pro-rata basis.

For example, if a worker works two days a week they are entitled to 11.2 days paid leave from April 1, 2009.

An employer will not have to provide more statutory annual leave if the worker’s contract specifies that they are entitled to the statutory holiday entitlement plus bank/public holidays — this covers employers who already afford their workers 28 days leave.

There is no statutory right to time off for bank and public holidays. Any right to time off or extra pay for working on a bank or public holiday depends on the terms of an employee’s contract of employment.

Where a worker does not work bank or public holidays but is paid for them they will count towards their entitlement to statutory holiday unless the contract specifies that the bank or public holidays are given in addition to statutory holiday.

If an employer chooses to give workers bank and public holidays in addition to statutory paid holiday then part-time workers for that employer should be offered the same entitlement to bank and public holidays on a pro-rata basis.

If an employee is unable to take all their holiday entitlement in one year their contract may allow them to carry over days of contractual holiday to the following year.

The additional holiday only (that is the extra 1.6 weeks) can be carried over to the following leave year, subject to the agreement of both employer and member of staff.

As a transitional measure, companies were allowed to buy out the additional leave entitlement (the four extra days) introduced from October 2007.

From April 1, 2009 the buyout of any of the additional leave entitlement will cease.

If the holiday calculation results in a worker being entitled to part of a day’s leave, the employer can decide how to treat this.

However, they may not round it down to the nearest full day. They may, if they wish, round it up to the nearest full day.

The statutory entitlement to paid holiday is not in addition to any contractual entitlement. It is the minimum amount a worker should have.

However a worker’s contract may give them contractual holiday over and above the statutory amount.

A worker may ask to take their leave when they choose provided they give their employer the correct notice.

The notice period must be at least twice the period of leave to be taken. For example, if a worker wants to take three days leave they must give their employer at least six days prior notice.

However, the employer has a right to refuse the request provided they give the correct notice which again is at least twice as long as the period of holiday to be taken.

Holiday pay is paid at the rate of a normal week’s pay for each week of leave.

An employee who is not receiving the holidays or holiday pay to which they are entitled can make a claim to an industrial tribunal but must have first raised a grievance in writing with their employer.

Further information is available from your local CAB or from the Department for Employment and Learning by telephoning (028) 9025 7580 or from their website at www.delni.gov.uk/er .

Siobhan Harding is an Information and Policy Officer with Citizens Advice.

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