UK Payroll

UK Statutory Leave, CVJRS and How to Process This Through Payroll

Client Advisor Team Leader
July 13, 2021

UK statutory holidays

Almost all UK workers are legally entitled to a minimum 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave).

This includes:

  • agency workers
  • workers with irregular hours
  • workers on zero-hours contracts

Bank holidays can be included as part of statutory annual leave.

Statutory annual leave UK entitlement

What this amounts to in days depends on how often you work per week.

For example:

  • Full time employees (e.g. who work a 5 day week) must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year.
  • Part time workers (e.g. who work a 3 day week) must receive 17 days’ paid annual leave per year.

If you work more than five days per week, you’ll still be entitled to 28 days’ holiday.

Most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave a year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.

Part-time workers

Part-time workers are entitled to at least 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, but this will amount to fewer than 28 days.

For example, if they work 3 days a week, they must get at least 16.8 days’ leave a year (3 × 5.6).

Use the holiday entitlement calculator to work out a part-time worker’s leave.

Irregular hours

People who work in shifts or who have term-time employment will be entitled to paid holiday for each hour worked in the average week. It may be helpful for them to get an estimate of holiday entitlement by working out the number of days or hours off for the average amount of hours worked in a week.

Limits on statutory leave in the UK

Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. For example, staff working 6 days a week are only entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday.

Bank Holidays

UK bank or public holidays do not have to be given as paid leave.

An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of a worker’s statutory leave in the UK.

Extra leave

An employer can choose to offer more leave than the legal minimum. They do not have to apply all the rules that apply to statutory leave to the extra leave. For example, a worker might need to be employed for a certain amount of time before they become entitled to it.

Will I get paid for my annual leave?

You’re legally entitled to your normal wages as usually processed via payroll whilst on annual leave.

This means that if you work set hours and/or your role is salary based, your income will be exactly the same as if you worked the time you took off.

However, if your hours/pay varies and your payroll amount is not consistent, your holiday income will reflect the pay you’d earn on average – which is usually based on the last 12 weeks amount processed by payroll.

Other aspects of UK holiday entitlement

Employees have the right to:

  • get paid for leave, as normal via payroll
  • build up (‘accrue’) holiday entitlement during maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • build up holiday entitlement while off work sick
  • request holiday at the same time as sick leave

When can annual leave be taken?

Although you’ll usually be able to choose when you take your annual leave, employers may have certain rules in place.

For example, if the organisation has shutdown periods (e.g. Christmas or bank holidays), you may be required to take annual leave during this time. If you don’t, you’ll still have to take time off – but it won’t be paid.

Employers can also restrict when leave can be taken – specifying busy periods as times when employees can’t take time off. For example, workers in some industries (e.g. retail), may be required to work public holidays, but can take the days off at another time or receive payment in lieu.

All of these details are usually explained clearly in your employment contract, so always check there first.

Can I carry leave over to the next year?

Your contract of employment will tell you how many days of leave you can carry over to the next year.

As a general guideline:

  • If you get 28 days annual leave, you can carry over a maximum of 8 days.
  • If you get over 28 days annual leave, your employer might also allow you to carry over any additional untaken leave.

However, this will also vary depending on where you work.

If you weren’t able to take your annual leave as you were on another type of leave (e.g. sickness, maternity) – some of the untaken leave may also be carried over.

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.

Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.

The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take the statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.

This will mean staff can continue working in the national effort against the coronavirus without losing out on annual leave entitlement. It is also important to note that all furloughed employees in the UK will still be accruing their holiday days whilst on furlough.

The changes will also ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.

When processing the payroll, it is important that employers keep records of holiday days accrued and if an employee wants to be paid in lieu and the employer is ok with this, to make sure to categorise the extra payment when payroll is being processed. Always take payroll service bureau for better calculation and understanding.


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Nena Petrovic
Client Advisor Team Leader
Nena Petrovic is the Client Advisor Team Leader at TopSource Worldwide, a leading Global Expansion services provider. She oversees and guides a team of client advisors, who communicate and collaborate with clients effectively. She is responsible for ensuring the accurate and timely processing of client invoices and payroll, as well as developing strategies and maintaining a client-centric approach.

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