Trying to calculate annual leave entitlement for your employees?

Or are you wondering how much holiday you’re entitled to yourself?

Great idea. We shouldn’t live in an age where employees fear to take annual leave. Time off is brilliant and should be encouraged for everyone. It doesn’t matter how much someone enjoys their job, or how committed they are to their work, everyone needs an extended break from time to time.

Here’s a handy guide for companies and workers on how to calculate annual leave and find out what everyone’s entitled to.

Note: For an interactive version of the formulas in this article, head straight over to our UK statutory holiday allowance calculator, as shown below.

A peek at our annual leave calculator. Visit the page to use it yourself.

Calculate annual leave entitlement with this formula

For full-time workers, you can use this formula:

[The number of days a week you work] x 5.6 = annual leave entitlement.

For a full-time 5-day working week, that works out at exactly 28 days.

How to calculate annual leave for part-time staff

Part-time workers should be treated no differently from full-time employees and are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave, but on a pro-rata basis. For example, if a part-time employee worked two days a week, you would calculate their annual leave by multiplying those two days by 5.6 weeks, which would give you a holiday allowance of 11.2 days. So the formula is:

[Number of working days] x 5.6 = annual leave entitlement.

Likewise, three days a week multiplied by 5.6 would be 16.8 days annual leave allowance a year. Agency workers are not exempt from these rules and must also be allowed to take paid holidays.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

How to calculate annual leave for zero-hours contract workers

For those on zero-hours contracts (or those who work irregular hours), like seasonal or gig workers, their statutory holiday entitlement is fundamentally the same. You just calculate it a bit differently.

While it might seem difficult to figure it out when they’re working different hours each month, it’s actually quite simple:

[Number of hours worked] x 12.07% = holiday allowance.

This figure comes from the fact that 5.6 out of the 52 weeks in a full year is 12.07%. So it ends up being the same as everyone else, even if they do have wonky working patterns.

 How is annual leave calculated when leaving a job? 

When you leave a job, your annual leave entitlement is calculated based on the leave you've accrued up to your leaving date. It's pretty straightforward. 

For example, if an employee is leaving halfway through the year but has only used a quarter of their holiday allowance, they are likely eligible for pay in lieu to compensate for the unused leave. Alternatively, the employee may take their remaining annual leave during their notice period, subject to approval by their employer.

To figure out how many days of holiday someone has earned in the year before they leave, and therefore, whether they’re owed any remaining holiday pay, you can use this simple calculation:

(A x B) - C, where:

  • A is their holiday entitlement for the full year
  • B is the proportion of the year that’s gone by the time of leaving
  • C is the amount of leave already taken

Your holiday allowance rights

If you’re employed in the UK and work five days a week, you should receive a bare minimum of 28 days paid annual leave. In other words, you are entitled by law every holiday year to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday. In some workplaces this includes public and bank holidays, in others it doesn’t.

Some employers might provide more than the minimum holiday allowance as part of their benefits package or contractual agreements with individual workers. It's common that longer-serving company members get higher amounts of leave - e.g. 1 extra day of leave per year worked, up to a reasonable maximum.

Remember, statutory paid annual leave is limited by law to a minimum of 28 days, and an employer is not legally obliged to award any extra, even if an employee works six days a week.

Do public and bank holidays count?

At the company’s discretion, paid bank and public holidays can count towards an employee’s minimum annual leave entitlement. Some workers are given a public and bank holiday entitlement in addition to their 28 days paid annual holiday allowance. It’s also worth noting that requiring an employee to work on a bank holiday does not automatically entitle them to an enhanced pay rate.

What about unpaid leave?

An employee has no legal entitlement to unpaid leave, but an employer may choose to grant a period of unpaid leave if they feel personal circumstances and needs dictate it. During maternity, paternity, adoption leave, and absences caused by illness, an employee’s holiday entitlement will accrue just as if they were working.

Resolving disputes

Everyone needs a holiday, and companies have a duty of care to make sure every member of their workforce gets a decent time out from the busy workplace. If someone has not been given their legal holiday entitlement, or hasn’t received their holiday pay, their first course of action should be to speak to their employer. If a resolution can't be agreed, it might be wise for them to contact a trade union rep.

How to calculate annual leave entitlement: things to remember

As soon as someone starts work, they begin to accrue an annual holiday allowance. An employee who is entitled to 28 days leave a year should be paid the same wage while on holiday as when they are in work.

Surprisingly, not everyone thinks to take their full allowance of leave. If you're a manager and you see someone failing to take advantage of their allowance, you should encourage them to do so. A company culture that encourages proper resting habits is going to have happier, more productive staff.

An employer can decide when an employee is allowed to take a holiday, but they must allow them the minimum amount of days off they're entitled to. When the worker’s employment contract is terminated, they are entitled to payment for any annual leave allowance not taken.

Both employers and workers would do well to remember these rules and abide by them. That way, they can be sure every holiday is a happy one.

Like all good employers know, granting workers a decent holiday allowance is key to making them feel valued, helping their wellbeing, and boosting productivity and performance.

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