Annual holidays

Your employees are entitled to at least four weeks of annual holidays every year. This applies to all employees, not just full-time employees.

What you must do

When an employee has completed 12 months’ continuous service you must:

  • Give them at least four weeks of paid annual holidays.
  • Give them the opportunity to take at least two of the weeks together if they want to.
  • Consider any request from an employee to pay out up to one week of their annual holidays entitlement.  Only entitlement arising from the anniversary of their employment start date after 1 April 2011 may be cashed up.  You are not allowed to ask or pressure an employee to cash up any leave. 
  • Keep good records of all leave to avoid disputes and get your calculations right.
  • If you have an annual closedown period, such as over a holiday period or seasonal break, then include a Clause for an Annual Closedown Period in your employment agreements to let employees know that this will happen each year. Put a reminder note in your diary at least a month before the closedown to ensure you give employees the required 14 days notice before an annual closedown.

What you could do

  • Ultimately the decision on when annual holidays can be taken is up to you. However, there are likely to be fewer annual holiday issues between you and your staff if you work together and plan in advance to give you time to arrange cover for their jobs.
  • If staff request to take paid annual holidays in advance of becoming entitled to them, approval is at your discretion. If you approve annual holidays in advance, ask them to agree in writing that you can reduce any final pay to recover the amount of any overpayment of final holiday pay that might result from taking annual holidays in advance.
  • If you employ people who have an intermittent or irregular work pattern for genuine casual work, you may be able to pay their annual holidays on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis. This means you can pay them 8% of their gross earnings as annual holiday pay on top of their wages.