Two of the busiest times of the year for employee holiday requests are Easter and the school Summer Holidays. With the first of those, Easter, coming up at the end of March this year, now is a good time to look at the rights of employees and the obligations of employers for annual leave. 
 
How much holiday are my employees entitled to? 
 
Most workers in the UK are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. A week’s annual leave is considered to be the same amount of time as the employee’s working week. 
 
For example: 
• An employee working a five day week is entitled to 5 x 5.6 = 28 days leave. 
• An employee working a three day week is entitled to 3 x 5.6 = 16.8 days leave. 
• The statutory entitlement is capped at 28 days. An employee working a 6 day week is only entitled to the maximum of 28 days leave. 
 
Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the 5.6 weeks of holiday entitlement as there is no legal right to be paid for public holidays. 
 
How much holiday pay do I need to pay my employees? 
 
Employees with fixed working hours receive holiday pay based on a week of normal pay. So they receive the same amount for a week’s holiday as they would do for a normal week of work. 
 
Employees on different working patterns are still entitled to receive holiday pay based on a week of normal pay. 
 
• For employees working shifts, a week’s holiday pay is calculated on the average number of hours worked in the preceding 12 weeks at their average hourly rate. 
• If an employee has a casual or zero hours contract with no normal working hours, their holiday pay is calculated on the average pay received over the previous 12 weeks in which they were paid. 
Do I have any control over when holidays are taken? 
 
The peak times for holidays are normally Easter, the school Summer Holidays and Christmas. Employers trying to keep their businesses running during these times can have a real juggling act on their hands. 
 
As an Employer, you are allowed to place restrictions on when holidays can be taken. However, employees must be able to take at least 4 weeks of their leave during the leave year. With the Employer’s agreement, employees can carry over any remaining time off to the following leave year. However, there is no legal right to carry over leave in this way and such an arrangement should be treated with caution, as the regular carrying over of untaken holidays can cause headaches in following leave years. 
 
Employers have a number of options they can consider when trying to balance the needs of the business with the needs of employees requesting holidays. These include: 
 
• Having a formal company closure during which employees must use their holiday entitlement, such as a two week closure for the summer holidays or a week’s closure at Christmas 
• Having a policy which states how many people can be off at any one time, and how those ‘holiday slots’ will be allocated 
• Having a policy which states the maximum amount of leave that can be taken by an employee on any one occasion or during busy periods 
 
It is advisable to have a clear written policy covering the rules and restrictions surrounding holidays. 
 
If you would like to find out more or need help to create your holiday policy, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss it with you. 
 
For all your HR advice and support whether in Luton or anywhere in the UK, look no further than Plain Talking HR. 
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