One of the most important questions you want to ask when starting a new job is how much annual leave you'll get. While this does vary from company to company, UK workers are legally allowed a minimum holiday entitlement, known as Statutory Holiday Allowance.

So, just how much is the UK Statutory Holiday Allowance exactly? We explain all below.

Note: if you want to just calculate it using your employment start date then head straight to our Statutory Holiday Calculator.

Statutory holiday entitlement for full time workers

For full-time workers in the UK (those that work a five day week) the legal minimum is 28 days statutory annual leave entitlement per year, or 5.6 weeks, under the Working Time Regulations. This applies whether you’re a permanent employee or agency worker / temp.

Statutory holiday entitlement for part-time workers

For part time employees – that is, anyone working less than five days per week – your annual leave entitlement is worked out on a proportionate, pro-rata basis. You simply multiply the number of days you work per week by 5.6.

For instance, someone who works three days per week is entitled to a statutory minimum of 16.8 days annual leave, while a four-day week worker gets 22.4 days off. Where annual leave figures aren't nice and precise, they get rounded up, but never rounded down.

This also applies for those who work irregular hours and those on zero-hours contracts. If that applies to you and you want to figure out how many weeks’ holiday you’re owed, we’ve got a guide for you on how to calculate annual leave.

What if I work more than 5 days per week?

If you work more than five days per week, your statutory entitlement still remains at 5.6 weeks.

Most decent employers recognise the value of holidays, time off and annual leave to their team’s health and wellbeing. This means that firms looking to attract the best people will offer more than the statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks holiday pay. In this case it'll be specifically covered in your offer letter, company handbook or contract of employment.

What about bank holidays?

An employer has the right to include bank holidays within the Statutory Holiday Allowance. You may be forced to take bank holidays off as annual leave, or may be required to work on bank holidays. This will be stipulated in your employment contract.

Using your statutory holiday allowance

When you can start using your holiday allowance depends on your employer. Most of us are entitled to their Statutory Holiday Allowance as soon as they start a job, while others may be given access to annual holiday entitlement spread out across the first year.

New annual leave entitlement often begins on the anniversary of your start date, but in other cases, it could commence from a new calendar year. Again, the specifics of your leave year will be detailed in an employment contract.

If you start a job after the statutory entitlement year has begun, your allowance will be calculated on a pro-rata basis. If you're not sure how many days of leave you're entitled to, based on when you started your job, a holiday allowance calculator is a really handy tool that figures it out for you.

Mostly, you can decide when you take your Statutory Annual Allowance, but some employers may set certain rules. An example of this would be stipulating that you have to take all public holidays or bank holidays off.

Can you carry over unused leave?

Legally, workers are obliged to take their annual leave within a given year, but if this can't be taken, due to sick leave, maternity leave, or adoption leave, it can be carried forward to the next year. You can't carry over more than 20 days’ leave, however, and the leave must be taken within 18 months. However, some employers have their own rules regarding carrying annual leave over, outlined in their leave policy and employees’ contractual agreements.

Do you get paid during statutory holiday leave?

Statutory Holiday Allowance is paid annual leave, so that you get the same wage on your days off. In some cases, if you have to work on a bank holiday, you may get paid more, but this is normally agreed in your contract beforehand. If you get paid commission, this is also normally included in your annual leave allowance. Workers whose income varies each week will be paid a mean average amount earned over the previous 12 weeks.

Employees can't receive payment in lieu of taking their Statutory Holiday Allowance, unless this falls within a notice period of employment.

If you're self-employed, work for the police, civil protection services or the armed forces, you're not entitled to statutory paid holiday.

Calculating your holiday allowance

Answering “how much holiday am I entitled to?” should be easy – but that’s not always the case.

For full-time workers doing a 5-day week starting on the first of January, it’s simple. But the pro-rata calculation if you start part way through your employer’s holiday year can be tricky. Fear not though; we've published a simple tool here to calculate holiday entitlement.

And if you want to learn more about UK statutory holidays, both ACAS and have some solid guidance.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash