The Pitfalls of Employee Holiday Entitlement

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”), workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' paid holiday each year. This equates to a maximum of 28 days' paid leave for a full time worker.

Some contracts state that employees are entitled to 20 days paid holiday plus public holidays each year. Where the employer’s holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December there are usually 8 public holidays each year. However, if the employer’s leave year runs from 31 March to 6 April, the number of public holidays per year can vary meaning that the employer may fall foul of the WTR.

For example, in the year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, there are 10 public holidays whereas in the holiday year 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, there are only 6. This means that employees with the above wording in their contracts would be entitled to 30 days holiday from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, but to only 26 the following year. The latter would be contrary to legal requirements.

What should employers do? This is an issue that will keep reoccurring therefore we would recommend that employers:-

•    Consider changing the holiday year so that it is 1 January to 31 December
•    Consider changing the wording of their contracts

It may also be possible to carry over leave from one holiday year to the next although there are restrictions on this.
Changes to the terms of current contracts of employment should only be implemented after consultation and with the agreement of employees.

For further information or to discuss any employment law issues please contact Debbie Sadler on 0118 955 9607 or at

Published on 04/02/2016

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