How Many Days Of Holiday Per Month In The Uk

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Holiday entitlements in the United Kingdom are an essential aspect of employment law and employee welfare. They are governed by specific regulations and provide a structured framework to ensure that all employees receive adequate rest and recreation time. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of holiday entitlements in the UK, exploring the legal requirements, how holidays are accrued, the impact of different types of employment contracts, and common practices across various industries.

The Legal Framework of Holiday Entitlement

Holiday entitlements in the UK are primarily governed by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), which implement the European Working Time Directive. These regulations ensure that all employees receive a statutory minimum amount of paid holiday each year. Under the WTR, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday annually. This entitlement includes public holidays, although employers can choose to give public holidays as part of the statutory leave or in addition to it.


For part-time employees, holiday entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis, ensuring that they receive a fair amount of leave relative to their working hours. For example, an employee working three days a week would be entitled to 3/5ths of the full-time entitlement, equating to 16.8 days per year.


Accrual of Holiday Entitlement

Holiday entitlement in the UK can be accrued in several ways, depending on the employer’s policies and the employment contract. The most common methods include:

Monthly Accrual: Employees accumulate holiday entitlement each month they work. For example, a full-time employee would accrue approximately 2.33 days of holiday per month (28 days divided by 12 months).

Annual Accrual: Some employers allocate the full annual holiday entitlement at the beginning of the leave year. Employees are then expected to manage their time off throughout the year.

Pro-Rata Accrual for New Starters and Leavers: When an employee starts or leaves a job partway through the year, their holiday entitlement is usually calculated on a pro-rata basis for the period they were employed.

Types of Employment Contracts and Holiday Entitlements

Different types of employment contracts can impact holiday entitlements, and it is important for both employers and employees to understand these distinctions.

Full-Time Permanent Contracts

Employees on full-time permanent contracts typically receive the full statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days per year. Employers may also offer additional leave as part of their benefits package, often referred to as “enhanced leave.” Enhanced leave can include extra annual leave days, public holidays, and sometimes even additional days off for long service or special occasions.

Part-Time Contracts

Part-time employees receive a pro-rata amount of the full-time holiday entitlement. This ensures that they are treated fairly in comparison to their full-time colleagues. For example, an employee working 20 hours a week in a role where full-time hours are 40 per week would receive half the full-time holiday entitlement, equating to 14 days per year.

Fixed-Term Contracts

Employees on fixed-term contracts are entitled to the same statutory holiday as permanent employees, calculated on a pro-rata basis for the duration of their contract. This ensures that short-term employees still receive adequate holiday entitlements.

Zero-Hours Contracts

Zero-hours contracts, where employees are not guaranteed a minimum number of working hours, can complicate holiday calculations. However, employees on zero-hours contracts are still entitled to paid holiday. The entitlement is typically calculated based on the hours worked. A common method is to calculate holiday pay as 12.07% of the hours worked, which reflects the statutory holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks out of the 46.4 weeks available for work (52 weeks minus 5.6 weeks).

Holiday Pay Calculation

Calculating holiday pay can vary based on the nature of the employee’s work and their pay structure. For employees with regular working hours and a fixed salary, holiday pay is straightforward and reflects their normal weekly pay. However, for those with irregular hours or variable pay, such as overtime or commission-based roles, holiday pay calculations can be more complex.

The WTR stipulate that holiday pay should reflect “normal remuneration,” which includes not only basic salary but also regular overtime, commission, and other payments intrinsically linked to the employee’s work. Recent legal cases have further clarified that holiday pay should reflect what the employee would have earned if they had been working, ensuring that they are not financially disadvantaged by taking leave.

Public Holidays in the UK

Public holidays, also known as bank holidays, are a significant part of the holiday entitlement landscape in the UK. The number and timing of public holidays can vary between the different countries within the UK: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Typically, there are eight public holidays in England and Wales, nine in Scotland, and ten in Northern Ireland.

Employers can choose whether to include public holidays within the statutory 28-day entitlement or to offer them in addition to the statutory leave. Many employers opt to include public holidays as part of the statutory entitlement, effectively reducing the amount of “discretionary” leave employees can take at other times of the year.

Carrying Over Unused Holiday

Employees are generally encouraged to take their full holiday entitlement within the leave year. However, there are provisions for carrying over unused holiday into the next leave year under certain circumstances. The WTR allow for up to four weeks of leave to be carried over if it was not reasonably practicable for the employee to take it within the leave year due to specific reasons, such as long-term sickness or maternity leave.

Additionally, some employers offer more generous carry-over provisions as part of their benefits package, allowing employees to carry over a certain number of days with managerial approval.

Holiday Entitlement in Different Industries

Holiday practices can vary significantly across different industries, influenced by sector norms, business requirements, and union agreements.

Public Sector

Employees in the public sector often receive more generous holiday entitlements compared to the private sector. This can include additional leave days and more favourable carry-over provisions. For example, NHS employees typically receive between 27 to 33 days of annual leave, depending on their length of service, plus public holidays.

Private Sector

Holiday entitlements in the private sector can vary widely. Some industries, such as finance and professional services, may offer enhanced leave packages to attract and retain talent. In contrast, sectors with higher levels of casual or part-time work, such as retail and hospitality, may stick closer to the statutory minimum.

Educational Sector

Teachers and other educational staff often have distinct holiday arrangements tied to the academic calendar. While they may have longer periods of leave during school holidays, their overall working hours and term-time commitments are typically more intense.

Holiday Entitlement Challenges and Considerations

Employers and employees must navigate various challenges and considerations regarding holiday entitlements, including:

Seasonal Demands: Industries with seasonal peaks, such as retail during the Christmas period, may face challenges in granting leave requests during busy times.

Operational Requirements: Employers need to balance operational needs with employee welfare, ensuring adequate staffing levels while allowing employees to take their entitled leave.

Employee Well-being: Encouraging employees to take their full holiday entitlement is crucial for their well-being, preventing burnout, and maintaining productivity.

Recent Developments and Future Trends

The landscape of holiday entitlements in the UK is continually evolving, influenced by legal developments, societal changes, and economic factors.

Impact of Brexit

Brexit has raised questions about the future of employment law in the UK, including holiday entitlements. While the UK government has indicated that it does not plan to reduce workers’ rights, there may be changes or divergences from EU standards in the future.

Flexible Working and Remote Work

The rise of flexible working arrangements and remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted re-evaluation of holiday policies. Employers are increasingly adopting more flexible approaches to holiday entitlements, allowing for better work-life balance.

Mental Health and Well-being

There is growing recognition of the importance of mental health and well-being in the workplace. Employers are increasingly offering mental health days, additional leave for personal reasons, and promoting a culture that encourages taking regular breaks.

See also: Why Brits Embrace Holidays?


Understanding holiday entitlements in the UK is crucial for both employers and employees to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to promote a healthy work-life balance. The statutory minimum of 28 days, inclusive of public holidays, provides a baseline, but many employers offer enhanced leave packages to attract and retain talent. With the evolving nature of work and increasing emphasis on employee well-being, holiday entitlements are likely to continue evolving, reflecting broader societal and economic trends.

Employers must stay informed about legal developments and consider their workforce’s needs, while employees should be aware of their rights and ensure they take the leave they are entitled to for their overall well-being and productivity.


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