UK Holiday Entitlement: Everything You Need To Know

You deserve a break. All working individuals are entitled to a certain amount of holiday or paid annual leave days. Occasional time off is vital to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The following article will take you through everything you need to know about holiday entitlement in the UK.

Annual leave: What is it?

Annual leave is paid time off that you can take during your work year as part of your holiday entitlement.  The amount of holidays you are entitled to every year is determined by the type of working contract you have with your employer. However, there is a minimum amount of paid leave days that are determined by the government and labour law.

For example, if you are a full-time employee, you are entitled to at least 28 days of annual leave. If you work part-time, three days a week, you are entitled to a minimum of 17 days of annual leave. If your working hours are irregular, the minimum amount of leave you are entitled to is calculated according to the full-time employment minimum.

For instance, if you work 2,5 days a week, you will be entitled to half of the full-time equivalent of 28 days - i.e., you will get 14 days of paid annual leave. If you're lucky, your employer might give you more time off during the year. If that is the case, it should be stipulated in your contract of employment.

Why is it called a "Paid Holiday"?

Your annual leave is referred to as a "paid holiday" because that's exactly what it is. While on leave, you are legally entitled to receive your regular wage as you would have during a regular working month. Suppose you are not being paid for annual leave that falls within your rights and your attempts to dispute it with your employer fail. In that case, you should consider taking the matter further with a trade union representative, as this would constitute discrimination in the workplace.

How do I go about taking annual leave?

Each workplace will have a specific procedure for taking annual leave, which will usually be stipulated in either your contract of employment or the employee handbook. One should give notice to a superior or HR representative before taking leave. This notice period typically equals double the amount of leave you wish to take.

For instance, if you will be taking 5 days of leave, you should give notice of your intention to do so at least 10 days before the commencement of your holiday. Still, this varies from one employer to the next, so be sure to check your employment contract so that you stay within the company's guidelines.

What about Bank Holidays?

Bank holidays are national holidays during which financial institutions and many other businesses are closed. Although it is typical for employers to give employees time off on bank holidays, it is not a holiday entitlement. In other words, your employer is not lawfully bound to give you paid time off on a bank holiday, as would be the case with annual leave.

In some cases where employees are expected to work on a bank holiday, the employer will pay them a higher rate than usual; still, by law, they are not forced to do so. If you are not sure what your company's approach to bank holidays is, it is best to reach out to your manager or HR representative to find out.

Taking time off from work should not be something that you're hesitant to do. It is extremely important to maintain a healthy work-life balance, so be sure to make use of your holiday entitlement benefits at work, so that you don't end up experiencing work burn-out. Overworking yourself is counterproductive: it isn't good for you, your employer, or your job performance. Take a break. You deserve it.

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