Employee annual leave

Work hard, play hard. It's not just a phrase

It’s generally agreed that a healthy balance between work and time off is essential for a healthy and happy workforce.
Your organisation also has legal obligations to provide paid holiday entitlement. The challenge for your organisation is to decide how much annual leave you can provide beyond the minimum — and to manage employees’ time off effectively.

Working out annual leave entitlement

Every UK employee is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of annual leave per year. For full-time workers this means 28 days, while part-time workers take holiday on a pro-rata basis. For example, an employee working 3 days a week (also called 0.6FTE) would have 5.6 weeks x 3 days = 16.8 days of paid holiday.

When it comes to public holidays, your organisation can decide which ones to include. At some companies, full-time employees must take Bank Holidays and Christmas as part of their 28 days’ annual leave. Others require more flexibility in how workers take their holidays. Your policy will depend on the needs of your organisation.

Annual leave calculations

The UK government website provides a quick way to calculate annual leave entitlement using an online calculator. You only need a few basic details to use it, such as employment start date, hours worked per week and where you are currently in the leave year.
The calculator will give you an exact entitlement, and outlines the employer’s obligations for the details you enter. For example:

Alison starts at a new job on 1st May, working 3 days per week. The leave year began on January 1st. The calculator quickly tells us that she is entitled to 11.3 days of holiday before the year’s up.

Keeping track of holiday time

Employees will often track how much leave they’re using, but it’s a good idea for your organisation to record all annual leave for planning and compliance purposes.

There are several ways you can track employee holiday, with options to suit organisations of different sizes.

  1. Create your own spreadsheet. For smaller companies, creating a dedicated spreadsheet or calendar might be the simplest way to track holiday. You can download templates for these online.
  2. Use a web app. Users can sign up for a free account and keep it simple, or pay monthly for an account with more features. Either way, the initial work is done and there are different types of template to choose from.
  3. Use a company HR software with an integrated holiday management system. For larger organisations, it can pay to have a comprehensive overview of staff leave, with tools and support to make managing absence easy.

Carrying over or paying for unused annual leave

Despite the best of intentions, a fast-paced year can sometimes present little opportunity to take a break.

If an employee doesn’t use all of their annual leave entitlement, they usually have a right to ‘carry time over’ to the next leave year, or to claim pay instead of annual leave. Employee rights at your organisation will depend


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