We all need to get away sometimes. Taking a holiday or having time to do things important to us is vital for everyone. But when you work for a business, you are often bound by rules that restrict how much annual leave you can take.

In this article, we will discuss what annual leave is and what the law says about it. We will also look at what you can do if you think your employee is breaching your rights. Let’s begin with the basics.

What is annual leave?

Annual leave (also called holiday entitlement) is a set amount of allowance where you can be absent from work each year. What you do during this time is entirely up to you, and you have no obligation to go on holiday.

The allowance for annual leave will vary by employer. The process for applying for leave will also be different depending on who you work for.

Is everyone entitled to annual holidays?

Every employee who works for a business will accrue annual leave throughout the year. Businesses often give it as a set number of days/hours leave for each month a staff member works. Employers may allow staff to take annual leave in lieu of accruement. In other words, they will give the entire yearly entitlement at the beginning of the year.

annual leave planner from Papershift

What does the law say about annual leave?

All workers have, from the first day of employment, the right to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave each year. This is regardless of the number of hours they work each week. The total includes the eight statutory holidays to cover the UK bank holidays. This gives every worker the right to at least 28 holiday days each year to take when they wish.

Can an employer give you more annual leave?

Yes. It is entirely up to the employer how much annual leave they give their staff. While they must adhere to a minimum of 5.6 weeks, they can increase this by as much as they want.

How do bank holidays affect it?

The law entitles everybody to 8 days’ holiday to cover the UK bank holidays. This does not give them the right to not work on these days. If an employer requires you to work on a bank holiday, they must ensure they refund the leave for that day. This will allow the employee to take an extra holiday at a different time of the year.

Employers will set out how they deal with bank holidays in the contracts of employment they issue.

What if I think my employer is breaching my rights?

In the first instance, talk to your manager. Ask them to justify why they are not providing the annual leave you have entitlement to. They may not realise their mistake or may have a legal justification.

If you are still not satisfied, then try talking to the Citizens’ Advice service. They may direct you to free legal advice at a Law Centre. You can try talking to a legal professional yourself. If a solicitor feels you have a strong case, they may contact your employer and even take them to a tribunal.

If you want to manage your staff leave in compliance with the law, check out Papershift’s staff leave planner. Signup for a free demo.

Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams 🙂

Illustration by Natasha Remarchuk from Ouch!