• By Sam Cook
  • In
  • Posted Tuesday March 24, 2015

Annual Leave: Your questions answered...

Annual leave is often, and understandably, a priority to employees. Despite this, it can often become a ‘bottom of the pile’ administrative task to managers - mainly due to its non-urgent nature.

However, people hold annual leave to such importance that any delays or mismanagement can actually impact your relationship with the employee, and therefore have a real impact on the performance and retention of key members of the team.

Annual leave entitlements and requests are also one of the most common grievance subjects, so managing them correctly can save a lot of time and effort.

Some common issues associated with annual leave include:

  • Staff failing to use annual leave/requesting to carry over entitlements
  • Sickness during annual leave
  • Annual leaving during sickness
  • Maternity/Paternity/Shared Parental Leave and annual leave
  • Part time workers or new starters
  • Bank holidays

The main piece of legislation that governs annual leave is the Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998 (later updated by the EU Working Time Directive) which provides minimum and maximum restrictions on areas such as working hours, breaks and annual leave. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the health (and rights) of employees.

Under the WTR/D, workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday per year. The regulations do not provide much detail to assist employers and therefore further legal precedence has been set by case law.

‘Use it, or lose it!’

The WTR says annual leave ‘may only be taken in the leave year in respect of which it is due’. The regulations also state that it may not be replaced by payment in lieu - except where the worker’s employment is terminated.

You do not have to carry outstanding annual leave over, although to reduce the risk of breaching someone’s WTR annual leave rights you should consider the following:

  • Do you have a clear holiday request procedure?
    If not, the FPM policies and procedures library has a holiday policy you can use.
  • Are employees aware of the policy - if you have one?
  • Has the employee had sufficient opportunity to request annual leave?
  • Have all requests been declined?
  • Have alternatives been offered?
  • Do you remind employees to book annual leave?

Dealing with annual leave is not always so simple though. The following offers advice on some common complaints and questions you may face as a practice manager...

‘I was sick though!’

Although not stated in WTR, case law has established that sickness ‘trumps’ annual leave and therefore the following applies:

  • Workers who become ill during or before holidays can reclaim the annual leave entitlement. You may want to include in your contracts/policies that if an employee wishes to do so, a medical certificate will be required.
  • Workers continue to accrue annual leave during sickness absence
  • If on sick leave, a worker can choose to take paid annual leave - it would be recommended to get the request in writing in order to evidence the request.
  • Workers who are unable to take annual leave can carry over entitlements (over holiday years). Case law has so far not allowed more than 15 months to be carried over.  The employee does not have to request the leave to be carried forward and should be included if dismissed during absence.

‘I’m pregnant, when can I take my leave?’

During maternity leave, a worker continues to accrue annual leave. If there is outstanding annual leave it should be carried over to the next annual leave year (if the maternity spans two years). With the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, the same will apply to both parents.

However, agreeing when to use the annual leave should follow the normal process - although many employers and employees look at using any entitlement up before the maternity leave begins or using some following the maternity leave.

‘How do bank holidays affect my allowance?’

There is no legal right to receive paid leave on a bank holiday. The 5.6 weeks statutory minimum annual leave includes bank holiday allowance.

Traditionally people would be given 4 weeks leave and not expected to work on bank holidays, therefore bank holidays are often seen to be a protected day with additional rights (4 weeks + 8 days would equal 5.6 weeks) even though this is not the case.

If you were to add a bank holiday entitlement as a separate allowance, part time workers would receive proportionately more annual leave. On the other hand, only giving part time workers the bank holidays that happen to fall on the day they usually work means that part time workers who do not work Mondays receive proportionately fewer holidays than their full time colleagues. Any practice which disadvantages part time workers risks being in breach of the Part Time Workers (PTW) Regulations.

Where bank holidays are paid in addition to the annual holiday entitlement, it is best practice to add up all the bank holidays over a year and then pro rata that on the basis of the part time workers’ hours. Add the pro rata bank holidays to the part time worker’s annual holiday entitlement to calculate the total amount of holiday entitlement. If the part time workers’ annual holiday entitlement is only the minimum 28 days under the WTR (i.e. it includes bank holidays) then their pro rata annual holiday entitlement will not change. For example a part time worker working a three day week is entitled to 16.8 days including bank holidays. Therefore,  they can use their entitlement to book time off work in the usual way and as full time workers do (and those who work Mondays should book off any bank holidays falling on a Monday if the Practice is closed).

You can request an employee to work on a bank holiday unless it states otherwise in the contract although consideration should be taken to ‘implied’ terms of a contact. Implied terms are where a custom and practice builds up a contractual right over time. Implied terms have the same legal protection as written expressed terms.

‘I work three days a week, how many holidays do I have?’

Part time workers are entitled to the same amount of leave as full time (in weeks). However, if your entitlement is normally calculated in days then you will need to pro rata any entitlements.

The easiest way to do this is to time the number of days worked per weeks by the 5.6.


  • 5 days per week = 28 days
  • 4 days per week = 22.4 days
  • 3 days per week = 16.8 days

If  you have different annual leave allowances (e.g. for length of service) then you may want to pro rata in the following ways to make the process simpler:

(Employee’s weekly working hours / Employer’s Full Time weekly working hours) X annual leave allowance (days or hours)


Employee work’s 15 hours per week, full time employees work 37.5 hours per week and employees get 28 days.

Full time holiday entitlements in hours are 28 X an average working day (7.5) = 210 hours.

(15/37.5)X 210 = 84 hours.

‘I started part way through the annual leave year, what’s my entitlement?’

The WTRs state that where a worker begins employment after the leave year begins, they are entitled to the proportion of the leave year remaining. If the calculation results in a fraction of a day e.g. 16.8 days, this should be rounded up to full days (17) under WTR.

Employers calculate this differently, but an easy method to use is this example calculation:

(Amount of months remaining in the annual leave year (rounded up to the nearest half) / month in a year (12)) X normal year’s holiday entitlement

E.g. if you annual leave year runs from Jan-December, your standard holiday entitlement is 28 days and an employee starts on 18th April:

(8.5 (months remaining)/12) = 0.71

0.71 x 28 = 19.8 days annual leave (20 days)

‘I work different hours on different days, this isn’t fair!’

Where you have employees who work different hours on different days or compressed hours, calculating their entitlement in days can be disproportionate and therefore it is often better to calculate in hours.

The Government have created an annual leave calculator to assist employers with working out entitlements (remember this is for the statutory minimum and your contract may be more generous)

To convert your allowances into hours, simply multiply a normal working day’s hours (normally 7.5 hours) by the number of days entitlement (minimum 28 inc bank holidays). Pro rata (if part time) and then deduct the amount of hours that would be worked on any day taken as leave.

‘You can’t tell me when I take my holiday!’

Under the WTR workers can request any working day as annual leave although this does not mean it has to be accepted. There is no requirement under the regulations to have a reason to decline the annual leave but it is always best to give one or document one to avoid claims of unfair treatment and potential grievances.

Employers can also state when a worker is to take all or any of their annual leave at a particular time.

Both employee requests and employer chosen dates are subject to a notice period of twice the length of the leave requested/to be taken. E.g. if a holidays request is for a week, it should be submitted two weeks before it is to start.

The law does not limit the amount of annual leave an employee can take at one time although employers may not be able to accommodate long periods of leave.

For specific queries regarding annual leave FPM Members can contact advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk where you question will be treated in confidence and will normally be answered (by email) within 2 working days of submission.

Alternatively, there is also further information on annual leave, including template annual leave policies, calculators and holiday forms in the FPM Policies and Procedures library.

© First Practice Management, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

  • 1


James FPM HR 22/01/2019

Hi Ewan. The following guidance is provided via reference to the BMA website. The first step in working out the annual leave entitlement for the part-time GP is to calculate the hours worked per week. The model contract for salaried GP’s defines full-time as 37.5 hours per week, which is comprised of 9 notional sessions of 4 hours and 10 minutes per session. Assuming this is the same session-length for your calculations, the GP will be be working 25 hours per week if they are working 6 sessions. Under the model contract, full-time salaried GP’s are entitled to a minimum of 30 working days annual leave per annum, plus 2 statutory ‘NHS days’ and 8 public/bank holidays. The next step is to calculate the GP’s minimum holiday entitlement per year, plus the 2 statutory NHS days (32 days). This is calculated as follows: Number of contracted hours worked per week (25 hours) x (32 / 37.5) = Number of days leave per year (21.33 days). To convert this to hours, the calculation is as follows: Number of days leave per year (21.33) x 7.5 = 159.975 hours (round up to 160 hours). The model contract states that full-time salaried GP’s will receive bank holidays back in lieu when they are required to work these days. Under the Part-time Workers Regulations 2000, part-time workers are protected against less-favourable treatment than full-time employees. The BMA advises that best practice is to provide additional time off when a part-time salaried GP’s normal days do not fall on a public/bank holiday. The easiest way to do this is to pro-rata the full-time bank holiday entitlement into hours and add this onto the 160 hours standard holiday entitlement for the part-time GP. This is calculated as follows: Number of contracted hours worked per week (25 hours) x (8 / 37.5) = Number of pro-rata bank holiday days per year (5.33 days). This should then be converted into hours as follows: Number of pro-rata bank holiday days per year (5.33) x 7.5 = 39.975 hours (round up to 40 hours). So, overall your GP would get 160 hours standard holiday and 40 hours additional bank holiday entitlement. I hope this helps to resolve your query. Kind regards, James.

ewan cameron 17/01/2019

If a full time GP is 9 sessions hypothetically , how does the annual leave and bank holiday calculation work if they work 6 sessions. I have had conflicting advice here thanks etc for any help

Bethany McCormack 23/11/2017

Hi Lorraine I recommend you contact ACAS - http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1461 They should be able to assist. Kind Regards, First Practice Management

Lorraine 23/11/2017

Last year the company closed on the 15th December 2016 and I noticed I was only paid for those 15 days I worked. My December pay was R9800.00 that is all I got and they said it included my bonus and the leave days owed to me. I earn R7000 pm and that amount I received does not sound right. Now the company wants to close on the 30 November 2017 so that means they will not be paying me for December??? is this right??? I need an answer please help meeee..... I have been working for the company since 2013 but they say on my payslip 2015 when I query this, I don't get an answer...

Bethany 14/09/2017

Hi Cathy, Please could you contact the advice line with your membership number and our HR expert will be able to help. Thanks, Bethany First Practice Management

Cathy Oliver 13/09/2017

Hi there. I work for the NHS in mupltlie clinics and my rota changes weekly. The rota goes out every Friday. Recently I was in my honeymoon and did not return until the Sunday. At this time I called and txt my seniors phones to ask where I was required to be on Monday. Neither replied, so Monday morning I called various other senior members all of which had their phones turned off. I managed to get through to one eventually who told me to dtay out and she would find out where I needed to go. By this time I arrived late by 15minutes, which had now been deducted from my annual leave. I offered to work the time back rather than use my leave but was refused. Can they do this? Any advice would be grateful. Thanks

Bethany 01/06/2017

Hi Adam, Thank you for getting in touch, as you can see this article is a little old now. Please could you contact - advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk Thank you.

adam kingdon 31/05/2017

Real time annual leave is being given out a couple hours before end of shift and im told i am not eligible because i have less than 100 hours remaining. Last year, i chose to save 66 hours until Sept-Dec and was told i could only have some, not all, because i should have taken them earlier in the year. Is there law regarding real time leave and how many hours you have left? keeping in mind i booked two days off for next week which will being me down to around 60.

Phil lythe 02/03/2017

My wife works in a care home and needs 3 days of to visit family and was told she can't take days it can only be weeks is this right or is it bullying thank you

Claire 27/01/2017

If annual leave works out as 1.3 people should be off in the holiday annual leave year should this be round up to 2 people or round down to 1 person. In order for everyone to be allocated leave.

Jada 21/10/2016

Applicants must have the ability to work within a collaborative environment, form and maintain excellent internal and external working relationships and be able to facilitate, mediate and resolve programme risks and issues. To be successful you must have strong project management skills and practical application of quality and risk processes.

D.Miller 02/10/2016

Hi how long after submitting a holiday request to my employer do I need to wait to see if that request has been accepted or not?

Nina Khalique 29/07/2016

I am wondering how much annual leave is awarded to practice managers. I appreciate this will be pro-rata . Would annual leave entitlement be increased after 4 years of service Thank you for your response. Nina

lauren 08/12/2015

Hi.. I work shift work and we put in for annual leave on a system which u can do as late as the day before you need it as long as it gets accepted if it's works for the company. If you want less than 4 hours you have to ask a manager for the leave. My manager said I can have the 2 hours but has to be unpaid? Can they do this I still have my annual leave quota to use?

Sam Cook, HR Advisor at FPM 29/06/2015

Hi Toader, without seeing the specific details I'm unable to help but it does not sound correct. Annual leave should always be paid. An employer can grant unpaid leave, but this should not affect your holiday entitlement. It may be worth contacting ACAS for some support. Nicola - they should only really be deducting the hours that you actually do not work. E.g. if you work 7 hours a day and you have the morning off, they should just deduct 3.5 hours. They may result in breaching the Working Time Regulations.

nicola 25/06/2015

I work part time of 2.5 days a week. I have been working for the same company for 12yrs and always received four full weeks annual leave of my usual working hours. I now have a new manager, who has said that if I take half a day of leave it will count as a full day of my holiday allowance. This means that I will lose 2 days annual leave. Do I have to use a full day of leave when I only work and get paid for half.

Toader 16/05/2015

My annual leave year runs from 1st of April to 31st of March. I'll have 12 days of holiday in July. Till that day I'll gather around 5 days of paid holiday. Is the employer allowed to take the rest of 7 unpaid days from my 20 annual days of leave? So I get 12 days of holiday, he pays 5 but he still takes off 12 from my annual leave. The contract doesn't say anything about this.

Sam Cook, HR Advisor at FPM 27/03/2015

Hi Amanda. Strictly speaking the only rule is that employees get 5.6 weeks per year or their contractual entitlement (regardless of bank holidays) but it depends on your what your policy specifies in regards to bank holidays and whether you are open. For example if your policy is more generous than the standard 28 days including bank holidays and says something like "you will receive a day in lieu for any bank holidays that fall within the leave year" then you would give the ones that fall within the year. Feel free to drop the adviceline an e-mail with your policy/annual leave statement in your contract or handbook extract if you wish to discuss further. Sam.

Amanda Nelson 26/03/2015

Our annual leave year runs from 1st April to 31st March, and there are usually 8 Bank Holiday days entitlement. However this annual leave year (1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016) includes two Good Fridays and two Easter Mondays. Would you advise giving 8 Bank Holiday days or 10 for this year?

Leave a Comment


Post Archive

Upcoming Events

There are currently no events scheduled.


Registered Practice Manager - Central Hampshire

Closing Date: 5 November 2020

Salary: Dependant on skills and experience

Practice Manager - London, SW3

Closing Date: 31 December 2020

Salary: Dependent on experience

Strategic Business Manager - Broadstone, Dorset

Closing Date: 7 November 2020

Salary: £50,000- £60,000 p/a depending upon experience

Practice Manager - Brighton, East Sussex

Closing Date: 25 October 2020

Salary: Dependant on skills and experience

Assistant Practice Manager - Belper, Derbyshire

Closing Date: 30 October 2020

Salary: A very competitive salary – consummate with expertise and experience

Registered Practice Manager - Central Hampshire

Closing Date: 5 November 2020

Salary: Dependant on skills and experience

Practice Manager - London, SW3

Closing Date: 31 December 2020

Salary: Dependent on experience

Practice Manager - Brighton, East Sussex

Closing Date: 25 October 2020

Salary: Dependant on skills and experience

What others are viewing now

Latest Forum Posts

Fetching latest posts...