With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, those who have completed their Christmas shopping may turn their thoughts to the exciting and festive topic of annual leave entitlement! There can sometimes be confusion in this area, such as workers expecting entitlement to paid time off over public and bank holidays, or the commonly held view that workers are automatically entitled to enhanced pay rates if required to work at these times.
Both of the above are not in fact statutory entitlements. This is not to say that such arrangements cannot exist. Employers are free to give workers annual leave rights over and above the minimum required by law – many do.
So what is the minimum required by law? The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) currently state that a worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks of unpaid leave; this is 28 days for those working 5 days a week and a pro rata amount for those who work part time.
There is no statutory right to paid leave on public and bank holidays, but the engagement may stipulate that public and bank holidays are to be included in a worker’s 28 days leave entitlement.
Similarly, enhanced rates are not required under the WTR, but may be provided for in an individual’s contract. Whether employers choose to offer enhanced rates is entirely a matter for agreement with the individual, although any such arrangement should be clearly set out in a contract.
The legal minimum expected of employers can sometimes be less than the expectations of workers. Provided that the minimum is met, it is for the employer to decide how to structure a worker’s annual leave entitlements, subject of course, to the rights under the AWR in the case of agency workers.