All workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year by law. You should also check your contract of employment as some workers will get more than the minimum legal entitlement. Leave is allocated over a period known as a 'leave year', which may be defined in different ways:
- The leave year may begin on any set date, if this is written in your contract of employment. The most common leave years are April to March and January to December. This is the way that most organisations operate, so you should check your contract, intranet and staff handbook, to see what the arrangements are where you work.
- If your employer does not specify a particular leave year, it will start on your employment start date.
Assuming (as is normal) that your employer has specified a leave year, then if you started at some point during that leave year, your leave for that year will be worked out pro rata. For example, if you started at the beginning of November, and your leave year began on 1 April, you still have five months until the next leave year. This means you would earn five-twelfths of your full entitlement this year. In this example, if you are entitled to 28 days of leave per year, five-twelfths would be 11.67 days. The regulations round up fractions to the nearest half day, so this becomes 12 days.
The law allows your employer to use an accruals system during the first leave year, so that the leave entitlement for the remainder of the first leave year is built up on a month-by-month basis. This means that leave cannot be taken (in the first year only) until it has been ‘earned’ by service proportionate to the amount of holiday you want to take. Applying this to the example above, a full-time worker who starts a new job with five months to go, would be given a leave entitlement based on the following calculation:
11.67 days divided by five months gives 2.33 days.
But as the entitlement is rounded up to the nearest half day, at the start of the first month you would accrue 2.5 days' entitlement, and by the end of the second month, you would have five days available to you, and so on.