Holiday entitlement is probably one of the most common issues PAs speak to us about. This short article will give you information on the basics of entitlement which includes tips and guidelines to prevent problems or disputes arising with your employer.
Almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year (annual leave). It is a legal right that an employer must provide. For example: if you work 13 hours per week you are entitled to 72.8 hours holiday per year (5.6×13). Your employer can include bank holidays as part of this leave, so check what’s in your contract of employment.
(Self-employed workers aren’t entitled to any leave but HMRC and employment law consider most PAs employed, or if not then they’re operating as an agency and therefore registered with the Care Quality Commission).
PAs have the right to:
- Get paid for leave – you’re entitled to a week’ s pay for each week of leave you take. If you’re hours or pay varies this is worked out as the average wages paid over the previous 12 weeks.
- Build up (accrue) holiday entitlement during maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
- Build up holiday entitlement while off work sick
Calculating holiday entitlement
To work out exactly how much leave you are entitled to, you can use the Gov.uk online entitlement calculator.
Annual leave begins to build up as soon as you start work. Most employers use an accrual system to work out how much leave their PA s just hould get. Under this system, you get one 12th of your leave in each month. So by the 3rd month you are entitled to a quarter of your total leave. For example if you work 13 hours per week you will accrue 6 hours leave each month (5.6 X 13= 72.8÷ 12= 6)
Carrying over leave
Your contract should state if you are allowed to carry any unused leave into the next year. Often you will be asked to make a request in writing. (An employer must allow you to carry over a maximum of 4 weeks of your leave entitlement if you couldn’t take it because you were off sick).
Booking time off
Your contract should state how much notice you need to give but if not then generally it’s twice as long as the amount requested (e.g. 2 days notice for 1 days leave). For PAs and carers however, this is generally higher as your employer cannot be left without support and so they need time to arrange cover, even if it is for just one shift.
Your employer can refuse a leave request but they must give as much notice as the amount of leave requested, e.g. 1 weeks notice if 1 weeks leave is wanted. Although employers can refuse to give leave at certain times, they can’t refuse to let workers take the leave at all.
Your employer can:
- State certain times you must take your leave. This should be written down in your contract of employment.
- Restrict when leave can be taken (e.g. if they can’t get cover) but they must give you notice at least twice as long as the leave requested. If it is a reasonable request that is non-discriminatory you can’t normally turn down your employers instruction but they do need to make the rules as clear as possible, have clear justification for them, and operate them consistently and fairly.
Taking holidays before leaving a job
You are allowed to take whatever holiday hours you are still owed during your notice period, as long as you have given the proper notice period and your employer can arrange cover. Your employer must pay you for any leave you have built up but not taken, even if you are dismissed for gross misconduct. If you have taken more leave you were entitled to you may be asked to work additional time or have the extra leave hours deducted from your final wage.
Try not to let taking time off become a difficult issue between you and your employer.
- Give as much notice as possible
- Be fair to the other PAs in the team (e.g. don’t book in every bank holiday throughout the year)
- Wherever possible support your employer in finding cover.
- If difficulties arise try to keep talking to your employer. It is important you understand their point of view, and they can understand yours. If you still can’t reach an agreement you can submit a complaint to an employment tribunal within 3 months of the refusal. If the complaint is upheld the tribunal may award compensation to be paid by the employer.