Category Archives: holiday

Every worker in the UK is entitled to statutory minimum paid holiday?

When the Working Time Regulations were first introduced in 1998 they created a legal right to a minimum amount of paid leave.   At that time there was a three month’s qualifying threshold. Later the three months threshold was removed and the basic holiday increased.

The threshold still lives on in the organisational memory – we still see contracts today that say you don’t get any leave during the first 3 months (or some other period) of employment. Whilst employers can prevent staff from taking leave during this period, they cannot prevent at least statutory leave from accruing.

So anyone on a short term contract of employment is accruing statutory leave whatever the contract says and should be able to take the paid leave during their employment or paid for any unused leave when they leave.

For more information on holidays

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Employment law with attitude

via Annabel Kaye’s blog at Ecademy by Annabel Kaye

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When Mum can’t turn up for the school play at Christmas..

Annabel: The school system is remarkably unable to link up with parents and bosses when it comes to Christmas. A few weeks before Christmas we get notes about Christmas plays and concerts (a must do for at least one parent in most households) and to cap it all a lot of schools close at lunchtime on the last day of term meaning someone has to pick the children up mid-day.

Allie: We have constructed The Perfect Christmas Fantasy. But it is a fantasy. It works well as a fantasy, but is really hard to make work in practice! Add in to this mix, if you are a teacher, that you probably have children at different schools plus commitments to your own school, and the whole thing starts to become a logistical nightmare rather than a celebration.

Annabel: While it can be OK in some firms for the non parents to disappear down the pub, it can be a bit tricky to try to organise an early finish for a school run or school play. We are always afraid the boss won’t be happy about it. There is no overall legal right to time down the pub or the school run but bosses can find it hard to deal with everyone wanting to be off to party or do family things.

Allie: Flexible teams are more likely to accommodate this. If you have been the person who never gave an inch throughout the year it may be difficult to get your colleagues to agree.

Annabel: Your request to take time off for the carol concert is one of many things a boss has to juggle. There will be times when you can’t go. Sometimes your partner, parent or someone else will have to be there.

Allie: Ask your child which is the most important event for them and try to focus on going to that one. Follow it with a favourite meal or other celebration. This makes the day stand out and be memorable.

Annabel. If you need annual leave around Christmas to cover school holidays you need to book this up really early. While bosses are sympathetic to the odd babysitting let down, you can’t just leave them hanging every time something goes wrong at your end.

Allie: Consideration is the key. If you want consideration you also need to give it. It’s also a very good model for your child to understand sharing in the grown up world. Balance your attention throughout the year, rather than trying to do everything during the festive season.

Annabel: Many organisations have to roster staff over Christmas. While many colleagues volunteer so that those with young children get Christmas day, there is no general legal right to get the days off you want. There will be people on Christmas day who don’t get to see their kids open their presents. We are all grateful for that when we need their help.

Allie: There are lots of qualities that are good to focus on at Christmas time other than celebration. Commitment, dedication, loyalty and many others you can name.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060
You can follow Annabel on Twitter

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Is all this extra leave really just humbug?

People from the same workplace used to go on trips together

The Royal Wedding and Jubilee extra bank holidays have produced a predictable flurry of queries about who pays for the extra day.   The answer to this lies in the contract of employment.

The wording of the specific employment contract has to be looked at.  If paid holiday is expressed as “28 days per year inclusive of bank and public holidays”, then there is no right to an extra paid day for the Royal wedding.   If paid annual leave is expressed as “20 days plus bank and public holidays”, then there may well be a right to the extra day, although some contracts define what is meant by “bank and public holidays” and list them out.  In the latter case, the extra day would probably not be included and so would not be paid.

There is no general right to be on leave on a public holiday – that again depends on the wording of the contract of employment.

The whole idea of having paid annual leave is a relatively modern one.   Public holidays were invented in the Victorian era , but it took a long time for paid annual leave to become the norm.

Workers were once required to work as many hours as their boss wanted them to.  The battle ground was not annual leave, but working  time.

Weekends were not leisure time for working people, and although they might have been given time off work to go to Church, this is a long way from the weekend as we understand it.  Saturday was generally a working day and Sunday a church going day.

The traditional northern Wakes weeks were unpaid from the 1870s until the 20th century, being a period of a week (or two) when mills were shut by the owners for refits or maintenance.    The August bank holiday was created in 1871, along with Easter Monday, Whit Monday and Boxing Day.

During the 1970s the old bank holidays were changed slightly, and New Year’s Day and May Day were added.

European law tends to treat annual leave as a matter of health and safety, and current minimum entitlements to annual leave are regulated under the Working Time Regulations in the UK.  The entitlement for a five day a week worker is 28 days including bank and public holiday, although many employers give more than this via their contracts.

The progressive entitlement to annual leave has created an entire leisure industry of its own.   When Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge complained about the introduction of the Boxing Day holiday, his business instincts were off base – he should have bought shares in the railway!

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website :

You can follow Annabel on Twitter

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Hidden Holiday Facts

@ copyright Clive Seymour  Holidays are something everyone has, but there are some surprising legal twists to holidays that you might not know.

1.        The boss can tell the staff when they must take leave
Under the Working Time Regulations an employer can require employees to take days of their annual leave by giving notice. There are rules about how long and in what form the notice should be given.

2.        Contracts/handbooks can over ride these rules and give bosses additional rights to specify when leave may be taken?
Despite the fact that many staff don’t read their contracts or handbooks, properly written (and issued) contracts can give bosses additional rights

3.        A ‘holiday year’ defaults to the anniversary of an employees start date?
If you don’t have any written holiday rules, then each employees ‘holiday year’ starts on the day they started work. It is well worth while having a holiday year so everyone’s leave can be calculated over the same period.

4.        The boss has the right to refuse holiday requests for unsuitable dates?
Although bosses can’t refuse all leave requests so that no-one can have any holiday they can say no to dates that are inconvenient, impractical, etc.

5.        Staff on long term absence such as extended sick leave and maternity leave continue to accrue holiday while they are away and can carry statutory holiday forward from one year to another if their absence spans a change of holiday year (unlike ordinary staff who lose untaken entitlement at the holiday year end).

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. Tel: 08452 303050 Fax: 08452 303060 Website : You can follow Annabel on twitter –



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The history of Christmas and work

“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin.  “But I suppose you must have the whole day.  Be here all the earlier next morning.”

Scrooge to his clerk in Dickens Christmas Carol

Until 1871 there were no bank or public holidays in the UK.  There was no statutory entitlement to annual leave.  When Scrooge complained about giving his clerk a paid day off he was doing something that was customary but not legally required.

In 1871 an act of parliament created four bank and public holidays:  Easter Monday, August bank holiday, Boxing Day and Whit Monday.  Scotland had different holidays and had New Years Day and Christmas day from this point on.

During the 1970s more additional holidays were added until we got to the basic eight bank and public holidays in the calendar today for England and Wales.

There is no general legal right to take these days as holiday – though taking them can count towards statutory annual leave, introducing under Working Time Regulations in 1998 .

Staff may be contracted to work on bank and public holidays.   Most employers offer premium or overtime rates for these days, though there is no general legal need to do so.   Increasingly with variable rosters and annual working hours, bank and public holidays are part of the normal working week.

Employers have the right under working time regulations to ‘designate’ leave (tell staff when they must take leave).  Many arrange an annual shut down for the gap between Christmas and New Year and require employees to save some of their annual leave for this period.

If you are planning Christmas arrangements for work, check out our humorous post from HR.

Merry Christmas – whether you are working or not.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website :  You can follow Annabel on twitter –

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Accruing holiday

Workers continue to accrue statutory holiday when they are absent … on holiday, on sick leave, on maternity leave, for whatever reason … so long as the employment contract is still in place.

Extended sick leave

Recently, the House of Lords (in HMRC v Stringer) has decided that an individual whose employment ended after a substantial period of sick leave was entitled to be paid for accrued but untaken WTR holiday, even if it went back earlier than the start of the holiday year.   This is a dynamic area of employment law, and you should check before calculating the final payment of anyone dismissed during a long term absence.

Sickness on pre-booked leave

Some employers have agreements that provide for sickness to ‘trump’ holiday and for annual leave to be refunded.  Most employers do not.   The default is – that the holiday had been booked and taken, and whether the individual was sick made no difference.  It can surely only be a question of time before someone challenges this, and says they need their full statutory holiday entitlement some other time when they are not ill!

Maternity leave

Individuals on all forms of family absence continue to accrue leave while they are off.

Women on maternity leave must be permitted to take their annual holiday entitlement in a period other than their maternity leave, or to carry it forward into a later year (or payment if they do not return).

Holiday is pay

Accrued statutory holiday is pay and thus cannot be forfeit when an individual is summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.  Additional contractual pay can be treated differently. 

Any non-payment of holiday pay can be claimed via a tribunal as a non payment of wages.

Reducing holidays

Any reduction in contractual holiday can only be made with consent.  Agreements attempting to reduce holiday below the statutory minimum have no effect.  Employees can still insist upon their basic paid holiday.

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Holidays and accruals

@ copyright Clive Seymour

Lounging about on the beach


Holiday pay has changed a lot on the last few years. .

Minimum holiday entitlement is covered by the Working Time Regulations (“WTR”).    Since 1 April 2009, annual entitlement for a five day a week worker is 28 days (5.6 working weeks) including bank and public holidays.

Even woman on a year’s maternity leave are still accruing holiday pay – since statutory holiday is accruing as long as a contract of employment exists – not just when work is being done.   Anyone on long term sick leave may be in a similar..

Some employers pay  holiday than the statutory minimum.  The “extra” can be made subject to any non-discriminatory rules or conditions the employer wants to impose, but the ‘statutory’ element  comes with some conditions that cannot be altered.

Part time workers

Part timers now get an allowance (pro rata) for bank holidays as part of their “5.6 working weeks”, even if they wouldn’t be working on that day anyway.

Temps and trainees

Temporary workers and trainees accrue WTR holiday (unless the trainee is on work experience placement from a college or on a sandwich course).

School age workers

Children below school leaving age (who have jobs such as paperboys) do not accrue WTR holiday – up to that point their ‘time off’ rights are covered by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

Employer’s duty

It is the employer’s job to ensure the worker takes their leave entitlement during the year.  The general rule is that statutory  leave is used during the holiday year and may not be carried forward (or substituted for by money except when leaving  during a holiday year).

So by early summer, the smart employer is having a look at who has booked which holiday – so we don’t end up with everyone wanting the last few weeks of the holiday year.

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