You’ll need to know the number of working days in a year for planning your work schedule and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
In the UK, the exact number of business days you’ll work can vary from year to year. The figure is influenced by the number of public holidays that year, as well as whether it's a leap year or not.
When you calculate your annual work days, you typically exclude weekends and public holidays from the total count. On average, you're looking at around 253 days in a normal year, although this number will slightly increase in a leap year. It's important to remember these figures when considering your annual work commitments and when maximising the time available for leisure and personal pursuits.
Number of UK working days in 2024
2024 is a leap year, which means there are 366 days instead of the usual 365. This happens every four years. This means the number of working days ends up as:
- 254 working days
- 104 weekend days
- 8 public holidays (bank holidays, Xmas day, etc.)
The number of UK working days in 2025 and beyond
In 2025, we’ll be back to normal non-leap years. Regular years with 365 days means the number of working days in 2025, 2026, and 2027 will be:
- 253 working days
- 104 weekend days
- 8 public holidays
Determining working days in a year
Identifying the number of working days in a given year is a key part of planning holidays, managing payroll, and scheduling projects. If you want to look further into the future, here’s how you can calculate this figure accurately.
1) Define the work week
Typically, a work week in the UK consists of Monday to Friday, with each day usually counting as a standard working day. These are the days in which most businesses operate and employees are expected to work.
2) Calculate the total number of days
To start, you should note the total number of days in the given year. A standard year has 365 days, while a leap year contains 366 days.
3) Exclude weekend days
Next, deduct the weekend days—Saturdays and Sundays—from the total. There are usually 52 weekends in a year, amounting to 104 weekend days that are usually non-working for a five-day workweek structure.
4) Account for leap years
During a leap year, which comes around every four years, an extra day is added to the calendar year to allow for the extra time the Earth takes to orbit the sun. This means there can be an extra working day if February 29th falls on a weekday.
The impact of public holidays
When calculating the total number of working days in a year, the impact of public holidays is always going to make a difference. These days, which are legally designated as holidays, give you time off from work and affect the count of your working days.
The UK observes several bank holidays each year, which can vary across different regions. In England and Wales, you're typically allocated around eight bank holidays, while in Scotland, you have nine, and Northern Ireland enjoys ten. These include New Year's Day and the early May bank holiday, among others.
Remember, the number of public holidays can change if events call for it. In 2023, we had an extra bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III.
Christmas and Boxing Day
Two major consecutive public holidays that you get to enjoy are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. These holidays ensure a festive break late in December, impacting the working days in that month. As these dates are fixed, if they fall on a weekend, substitute days are usually given, known as 'bank holiday in lieu'.
The Easter period also brings two bank holidays: Good Friday and Easter Monday. Since Easter's dates change each year, the impact on the working days varies; you’ll need to check the specific dates for each year to determine the effect on that year's total working days.
Summer and spring holidays
Lastly, you get time off for the Spring Bank Holiday and the Summer Bank Holiday. The Spring Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday in May, while the Summer Bank Holiday is on the last Monday in August for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in Scotland it's on the first Monday in August). These additional holidays break up the working calendar and give a nice opportunity for chilling out during the warmer months.
Keep these public holidays in mind as they can change the number of working days you have in any given year.
Calculating your work hours
When you're trying to figure out your total work commitment over a year, you'll need to factor in the number of working hours in your typical work pattern, and then allow for holidays and your entitled time off. Understanding how to calculate these elements effectively will help your career management and financial planning, especially if you’re on an hourly rate.
In the UK, full-time employees typically adhere to a standard 35 to 40 hour work week, which equates to around 7 to 8 hours per working day. Specifically, if you're working a standard 5-day week, you're likely committing to roughly 1,750 to 2,000 work hours annually before any time off is factored in.
It’ll be different for part-time workers. Same for those on a four-day work week, or a 9-day fortnight, but the simple calculation in the ‘Determining working days in a year’ section above should sort you out. Just adjust the number of hours in your typical week and go from there.
Calculating your holiday entitlement
If you’re looking for an easy annual leave days calculator so you don’t have to mess around in Excel anymore, head over to our annual leave calculator.