Understanding Holiday Entitlement
by Kelly Wallace Horne
It can be extremely hard to keep up to date with the changes to requirements regarding employment, and subtle changes to employment law are easily missed. Add to that the unconventional, awkward and random hours the equine industry demands and working it all out can leave you with a real headache. Here I will attempt to simplify the rights and obligations of both employers and employees regarding holiday entitlement in the equine industry.
Who is entitled to paid leave?
Almost all workers are entitled to paid leave every year, even part time/flexi hours staff, agency and casual workers. Employees “on the payroll” are entitled to 5.6 days paid leave per year for every 1 day worked each week (I know that sounds a bit odd but do read on, all will become clear…) Employees must be paid their regular full pay for each day off work, every year. To promote good relationships and job longevity you may agree to give your staff more paid leave, that is entirely up to you. Holiday entitlement in the equine industry is exactly the same.
People working freelance or self-employed are entitled to take time off but are not entitled to paid leave. Note: all freelancing and self-employed people reading this, you should arrange and budget for your holiday leave each year!
How do I work out how much paid leave an employee is entitled to?
Full time staff
A full time member of staff working a minimum of 5 days a week is entitled to 28 days (5.6 weeks) paid leave every year. Even if an employee works 5.5 or 6 days a week, the holiday entitlement is still 28 days per annum, and so remains the same.
Part time staff
Annual holiday entitlement is worked out at 5.6 paid days off per one day worked a week, so for every single day a part time employee works in. a week the holiday entitlement increases by 5.6…
|Days worked in a week||Days’ holiday entitlement per year|
|5 or more||28|
For both employers and employees alike, it is a good idea to keep a note of part time hours worked as you go and mutually agree on the calculations weekly, so everyone is clear on the legal requirement regarding paid leave owed to the employee.
In the face of it, working flexi-hours seems to complicate things, but fortunately the Government website has a nifty holiday entitlement calculator to help you break down time worked by:
- Days worked
- Hours worked
- Casual or irregular hours
- Annualised hours
- Compressed hours
How do I work out how much I should pay?
In the equine industry it’s quite common for staff to be paid a weekly salary (for example, £375 a week) so working out holiday pay is quite simple. It’s when an employee works flexi or irregular hours that things get complicated, and employers need to work out an average hourly rate in order to correctly calculate holiday pay owed.
Here is the guideline from the Government website:
Fixed hours and fixed pay (part time or full time): A week’s holiday pay equals how much a worker gets for a week’s work
Shift work with fixed hours (part time or full time): A week’s holiday pay equals the average number of weekly fixed hours a worker worked in the previous 12 weeks at their average hourly rate
No fixed hours (ie casual work): A week’s holiday pay is the average pay a worker got over the previous 12 weeks (in which they were paid).
To calculate average hourly rate, only the hours worked and how much was paid for them should be counted. Look back at the last 12 weeks of your records and note the days worked, the hours worked within those days and the pay received for the work. If no pay was paid in any week, count back a further week, so that the rate is based on 12 weeks in which pay was paid. The average hourly pay during this 12 week period is how the holiday pay entitlement is worked out.
When can holiday entitlement be taken?
On the whole, an employee is entitled to choose when to take their annual paid leave, and this applies to holiday entitlement in the equine industry too. Obviously, as with any industry, holiday leave requested needs to be reasonable and mutually agreeable. TOP TIP: To save confusion, and to avoid disappointment and possible disputes, it’s a good idea to have a central holiday rota, where paid leave is booked out and clear for all to see.
Both employers and employees owe it to themselves to be reasonable and “up front” about holiday entitlement and requirements. Firstly it avoids unnecessary disappointment and, inevitably, special occasions like weddings, christenings and family get-togethers occur in peoples lives, as well as annual holidays, unexpected complications that require time off, and the need for general downtime!
Christmas and New Year holidays can be a major bone of contention so communication in advance is all to keep things sweet!
Also, let’s clear up any confusion regarding weekends and bank holidays. Obviously, the equine industry operates 365 days a year and is no respecter of weekends, bank holidays, Easter, Christmas or any other special occasion! This is very often where calculating holiday entitlement goes awry…
Weekend days bear no relevance to holiday entitlement. No employee is owed paid leave in lieu of working a weekend. If a job is regularly Monday to Friday and an employee works a weekend day, for example, to cover a busy period, sickness, or another staff member’s holiday leave then the employee is owed an unpaid day off in lieu of an unpaid weekend day off, or they are entitled to be paid overtime.
Bank holidays can be included in paid leave. This means that if an employee doesn’t work a Bank Holiday they can be paid a full day’s wage and that day is deducted from their holiday entitlement.
There are 8 Bank Holidays a year in England and Wales and 9 in Scotland, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday. If an employee takes any of these bank holidays off on full pay, by law these days can be taken from the employees annual holiday entitlement, should they wish to take these days off. An employer may choose to give employees Bank Holidays off in addition to annual holiday entitlement, but the law does not say they must. It is at the discretion of the individual employer. Ensure it is clear in the written statement of employment that Bank Holidays are or are not included in annual holiday entitlement.
When Holiday Entitlement hasn’t been taken
The only time someone can get paid in place of taking statutory leave (known as ‘payment in lieu’) is when they leave their job. Employers must pay for untaken statutory leave (even if the worker is dismissed for gross misconduct). If an employer offers more than 5.6 weeks’ annual leave, they can agree separate arrangements for the extra leave.
Alternatively, an employee can take paid leave instead of working their notice period. Either way, the holiday entitlement must be settled. Hours of paid leave, or payment in lieu of paid leave must be detailed on the employees payslips.
Booking time off
The general notice period for taking holiday entitlement is at least twice as long as the amount of holiday the employer wants to take (for example 2 days’ notice for 1 day’s leave) unless the written statement of employment says something different. As horses don’t take care of themselves and cover is not always possible at short notice it is a very good idea to discuss this when agreeing on terms of employment and forming the written statement of employment.
- tell their staff to take leave, for example bank holidays or Christmas
- restrict when leave can be taken, for example at certain busy periods
- Although employers can refuse to give leave at a certain time, they can’t refuse to let workers take the leave at all
An employee must never book a holiday without ensuring they will be able to take the time off work first. An employer can refuse a leave request but they must give as much notice as the amount of leave requested, for example 2 weeks’ notice if the leave requested was 2 weeks. That would be far too late if the employee has booked flights and/or accommodation for their holiday, but the employer is entitled to do this by law! Employees must always try to give their boss as much notice as possible of their desired holiday, so as to minimise disruption and leave plenty of time to arrange cover.
This article is a general guide intended to outline the basic legal obligations of employers and employees and doesn’t cover every type of working arrangement or all scenarios. If you require further advice and clarification please use the following details:
Visit gov.co.uk to use the official Holiday Entitlement Calculator here.
To get help and advice specific to your circumstances contact ACAS here.
Telephone: 0300 123 11 00
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm