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Holiday pay - what you’re entitled to

This advice applies to England

If you work, you’re entitled to paid holiday. It doesn’t matter what type of work you do - for example, full-time, part-time, agency or casual work.

The only situation where you won’t be entitled to paid holiday is if you’re self-employed (you run your own business).

You can choose when you take your holiday, although your employer might make you take it at certain times - for example, on bank holidays.

How much holiday you’re entitled to

Your statutory holiday entitlement depends on how many days you work a week. Your employer might give you more but it’s up to them.

Days you work a weekDays’ holiday you’re entitled to a year
1 5.6
2 11.2
3 16.8
4 22.4
5 or more 28

If you work irregular days or hours or you’re in the first year of your job, your entitlement might be more tricky to calculate. You can use the holiday entitlement calculator on GOV.UK to help you.

When you won’t be entitled to statutory holiday

You won’t be entitled to statutory paid holiday if you’re:

  • self-employed
  • in the armed forces, police or civil protection services (for example, fire brigade, coastguard) - although your employer should still give you paid holiday under your contract

Contact your local Citizens Advice if you don't think you've been given contractual holiday.

Sometimes an employer will try to get around paying holiday pay by telling you that you’re self-employed, when actually you’re not. This is common for casual workers. It's important to know your employment status.

Check your employment status

You can check if you're a 'worker', an 'employee' or 'self-employed' on GOV.UK - if it seems like you're a worker or an employee, then you could be entitled to holiday pay. You should raise this with your employer.

How much pay you should get

You’ll be paid the same rate while you're on holiday as you’re normally paid in your job. For example if you get paid £280 a week, you’ll still be paid £280 when you take a week off.

If you get commission on top of your basic pay, this should be included in your holiday pay. You shouldn't get paid less commission because you took time off on holiday. For example, if you normally get paid £150 a month in commission, you should be paid £150 even if you were on holiday for a week.

If your pay or your hours of work vary from week to week, the amount you’ll get will be based on the mean average amount you earned in the past 12 weeks. See GOV.UK for an explanation of how to work out your holiday pay.

Agency and casual workers - rolled-up holiday pay

You might be told that you’ll get extra pay on top of your hourly rate, instead of being given paid holiday leave. This is known as ‘rolled-up’ holiday pay.

The idea is that you store up the extra pay and use it when you want to take time off work.

Although the government and Acas recommend employers don't use rolled-up holiday pay, it's legal if your employer does it clearly. For example, they can’t say "You’ll be paid £8 an hour which includes rolled-up holiday pay." They must say "Your basic hourly pay is £7.20 per hour. In addition to this you’ll receive 80p per hour rolled-up holiday pay."

Your payslips must show the amounts separately. If they don’t, you should raise this issue with your employer. If you visit your local Citizens Advice, make sure you bring a recent payslip with you.

If you have a problem with holiday pay

It’s generally best to try to resolve an issue with your employer directly (if you can). If you can’t, you may have to make a claim to an employment tribunal.

There are specific time limits for making a claim. For example, if you’re making a claim for unpaid holiday pay, you must do so within 3 months. Other types of claims have different time limits.

Contact your local Citizens Advice to find out what the time limits are for your case.

Take the following steps:

Step 1: speak to your employer

You could try having an informal chat with your employer - you might be able to sort the issue out by talking. Explain to them that you understand your entitlement to paid holiday.

Step 2: raise a grievance

Check if your employer has a formal grievance procedure you can use. Even if they haven’t, you can still raise a grievance - for example by writing a letter.

Explain why you think you’re entitled to holiday pay, and why you think you haven’t been paid enough. Include copies of any evidence.

Step 3: contact Acas

If your grievance doesn’t get the result you want, you can take your employer to a tribunal. You'll have to notify Acas first.

Acas is an organisation that provides independent support to help sort out employment disputes. They'll see if your employer will agree to a process called ‘early conciliation' - a way to resolve disputes without going to a tribunal.

The quickest way to start is to fill in  the early conciliation form on the Acas website. Or you can call the Acas early conciliation team on 0300 123 1122.

Step 4: take your employer to a tribunal

Your last resort is to take your employer to an employment tribunal - think carefully before you go ahead, as it could be expensive and stressful.

Before you do this, it’s important to get advice from an employment specialist about whether your case is likely to be successful.

If you visit your local Citizens Advice, make sure you take along:

  • your employment contract, if you have one
  • any correspondence you’ve had with your employer
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