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What are employee’s holiday rights?

Learn what your employee's legal holiday rights are, calculate how much leave they're entitled to, and what protocol you can follow for booking time off.

You will learn

  • What holiday rights your staff have
  • How to calculate annual leave
  • Requirements for booking leave

As an employer, you’ll need to understand what holiday rights you need to give your employees. Your staff are legally entitled to take paid time off from their work known as statutory or annual leave. 

How much time they get depends on how many hours they work each week, and you can of course offer more time off than the legal minimum to increase the attractiveness of your workplace to potential employees. If your staff are full-time, that is, if they work for you five or more days a week, they must have at least 28 days, or 5.6 weeks, of paid leave per year. 

Part-time workers are slightly different because they work less hours, but they’re still entitled to have the equivalent of 5.6 weeks’ worth of holiday. So, while they might not be getting the full 28 days, you’ll need to work out what the equivalent would be. It’s easier than you might think. If you have an employee who works three days a week, for example, to find out how much paid time off they’re entitled to you just need to multiply it by 5.6. So, your employee who works 3 days each week would be entitled to 16.8 days off. 

If you want to check your employee’s holiday rights, head to Government’s holiday calculator to easily discover how many days they’re entitled to.


When you calculate how much time off your employee’s annual leave entitlement, you’ll probably get results with a decimal point. That’s because it’s calculated using the number of hours off your employee is entitled to and not in days. If that’s the case, there are a number of different options that you can take:

  • Calculate how many hours it’s equivalent to and let them leave early or come in a bit later
  • Round the time up to the nearest whole day – you can’t legally round the days down
  • Pay the employee for the part-day owed
  • Allow the employee to carry the part-day over to next year’s leave

Your employee’s holiday rights include the right to full pay while they’re away. If your worker’s pay doesn’t vary with the amount of work done, then you need to provide them with the same amount of pay as you would in a normal working week. If your employee’s income changes depending on the number of hours they work, look to the past 12 weeks. Find out the average number of hours they’ve worked each week over that period and multiply it by their average hourly rate to find out how much holiday pay they’re due.

Employees are required to give you notice if they want to use some or all of their holiday entitlement. The notice period must be twice as long as the requested holiday period, unless you’ve stated differently in your contract. So, to take five days of holiday, your employee should request it at least ten days in advance. 


It’s worth taking the time to have a think about whether you’re going to include bank holidays in your employee’s statutory leave. Bank holidays do not have to be given as paid leave, but you could choose to include them as part of your employee’s annual leave allowance. You might also decide that you’ll allow your employees to take paid bank holidays off work without it impacting the number of statutory days off they’re entitled to. 

To make your business more appealing to potential employees, you could choose to increase the number of paid holiday days your staff are entitled to, as long as you meet the statutory minimum. Some employers offer increased holiday days as a reward for remaining with the business, as high staff retention rates mean you’ll save money on recruitment and training.

For some more advice on your staff’s holiday rights, check out the ACAS guide, or head to Government’s information pages.

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Written by:

Beth Ellin

How's Business content writer

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