Employees are entitled to work no more than a set number of hours each week and to have paid time off during each year. The rules are not always straightforward, particular for part-time workers or those with irregular hours. We take a look at the key points.

Working time rules

Most employees cannot be required to work an average of no more than 48 hours per week unless they consent and opt out of the limits.

They are entitled to an hour’s consecutive rest within each 24-hour period and a 20-minute break when they work for six hours or more.

They should have 11 hours of rest between working days and at least one day a week off. No more than eight hours can be worked in a night shift.

For those aged 16-18, no more than eight hours can be worked each day, with a maximum of 40 hours in a week.

What are the holiday pay laws?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 give employees the right to paid holiday. Workers are now entitled to 28 days holiday each year. This can include bank holidays, but there is no right to take leave on the day of the bank holiday itself.

It should be noted that while an employee can opt out of the limits imposed on hours worked, they cannot opt out of the Regulations entirely. This means that they are still entitled to rests and paid holiday, even if they work more than 48 hours per week.

Holiday pay advice for employers

Employees are entitled to be paid normally during during leave. This includes part-time workers and those on a zero-hours contract.

An employee should give notice equivalent to twice the amount of leave that they are requesting so that if for example they want 10 days off, they should notify you 20 days before the start date. You would then have the same amount of time to agree or decline the request, ie. you should respond within 10 days.

As an employer, you can require an employee to take their holiday at a specified time, provided you give them notice of twice the amount of time off. Generally, four weeks of the holiday must be taken in the year to which it relates. The remaining eight days can usually only be carried over with your agreement as employer.

Exceptions exist where an employee has been on sick leave or maternity leave.

There is no right for the employee to take payment instead of holiday, unless their employment contract is at an end.

How many days’ holiday are part-time workers entitled to?

For part-time employees, holiday is calculated on a pro-rata basis. This means that someone who works two-and-a-half days a week, or half a week, will be entitled to half of the 28 days, ie. 14 days in a full year.

Calculating holiday pay

Different rules apply to pay for the first 20 days paid holiday and the remaining eight or more days. This is because the first 20 days were introduced by a European directive, while the further eight days were added at a later date under the Working Time Regulations.

The first 20 days’ holiday is paid on the basis of regular payments made to the employee and which are normal remuneration.

Holiday pay for the remaining days is calculated by looking at average pay for the previous year.

How to work out holiday entitlement in hours

Holiday accrues from when an employee starts working for a business and includes time on probation, sick leave and maternity or other parental leave.

Holiday entitlement for part-time work, paid on a pro rata basis, is worked out by multiplying the number of days worked by 5.6. For example, if an employee works three days per week, they are entitled to 16.8 days’ paid holiday (3 x 5.6) per year.

For those on zero-hours contracts, the amount is calculated by looking at the average pay and hours worked for the preceding 52 weeks.

If full-time workers are given more than 28 days’ holiday per year, then part-time workers must also receive more, calculated on a pro rata basis.

If an employee is entitled to part of a day as holiday, then you must decide how this will be dealt with. You can round it up if you choose to, but you do not have to.

The government’s website includes a holiday entitlement calculator to calculate the amount of holiday for either a full year or part of a year.

How Springhouse can help

At Springhouse Employment Solicitors we can help you ensure that you have dealt correctly with both holiday pay and working time. We can help protect your business by making sure that you have clear working time and holiday policies in place and by ensuring that your holiday pay calculations, such as those involving commission and sickness absence, are correct.

If you would like to discuss your liabilities as an employer, contact us.

Contact us for an initial chat with our helpful team.

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