When you can take holiday

You can request holiday (known as annual leave or statutory leave entitlement) when you want.

An employer can refuse to give leave at certain times, for example during busy periods, but they can’t refuse to let an employee take any holiday at all.

They can also make employees take leave at certain times, such as Christmas or bank holidays, and restrict how much holiday can be taken at one time.

Applying for leave

You need to give at least twice the amount of notice as time you want to take off, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, if you want 2 weeks off you’ll need to give 4 weeks’ notice.

Refusing leave

An employer must give the same amount of notice to refuse leave as the amount of holiday an employee has requested. For example, if an employee requests 2 weeks off their employer must give 2 weeks’ notice that they’re refusing the request.

The holiday 'leave year'

Your company will have a start and end date when you should take your holiday by – the ‘leave year’. You should be told the company’s leave year when you start working.

You must take most of your statutory leave during the leave year.

Carrying over leave

It’s possible to ‘carry over’ (take in the next leave year) up to 8 days out of 28 days’ leave – but it’s up to an employer to decide how many.

Your contract will normally say how much leave you can carry over.

Bank holidays

There’s no automatic right to paid public or bank holidays. An employer can choose to include these as part of statutory annual leave.

Bank holidays if you work part time

If your workplace is closed on a public holiday and it’s normally a work day for you, your employer can make you take it as paid leave.

If you work on Mondays this could mean that up to 4 days of your annual leave are taken on public holidays rather than at a time you choose.

You could ask your employer if you could take public or bank holidays as unpaid leave.

Taking holiday in a notice period

You may be able to take what’s left of your annual leave during your notice period before leaving a job. How much you get depends on how far through the leave year you are when you stop working.

If there’s any statutory holiday left that you haven’t taken when you leave, your employer must pay you for it. This is known as ‘payment in lieu’.

Holiday when starting a job

You start to build up (accrue) leave as soon as you start a job.

However in the first year of a job an employer can use an ‘accrual system’ where leave is calculated as you go along. For example, you build up one twelfth of your leave each month, so that by the end of the third month you can take a quarter of your annual leave.

You can use the holiday entitlement calculator on GOV.UK to work out how much holiday you should get.

Part days' leave

You may have built up part days’ leave, for example 16.8 days if you work 3 days a week.

To manage these part days your employer may agree to:

  • let you leave work early or come in late
  • round up to the nearest full day (it can’t be rounded down)
  • pay you for the part day
  • carry it over to the next leave year
When you can take holiday
Holiday entitlement
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