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Leave in United Kingdom

Holiday Leave in United Kingdom

The Holiday entitlement is 20 days for an employee working five days a week, and the employer can include bank holidays on top of that. The employer must pay for holiday days employees have not taken. 

Public holidays

In the UK, public holidays are commonly referred to as bank holidays. Their amount varies in the separate countries: eight days in England and Wales, nine in Scotland, and ten in Northern Ireland. 

Employers do not have to pay for public holidays to employees. If a bank holiday is on the weekend, a substitute weekday becomes a bank holiday, usually the following Monday. 

Need help understanding holiday leave in the UK and any additional agreements?

Our experts can take you through all employment regulations in the UK, including holiday and other paid leave
England & Wales Public Holiday Calendar 2023
2/1/2023 Monday New Year's Day
7/4/2023 Friday Good Friday
10/4/2023 Monday Easter Monday
1/5/2023 Monday May Bank Holiday
8/5/2023 Monday King's Coronation bank holiday
29/5/2023 Monday Spring Break Holiday
28/8/2023 Monday Summer Bank Holiday
25/12/2023 Monday Christmas Day
26/12/2023 Tuesday Boxing Day
Scotland 2023 Holiday Calendar
2/1/2023 Monday New Year's Day
3/1/2023 Tuesday 2nd January
7/4/2023 Friday Good Friday
1/5/2023 Monday May Bank Holiday
8/5/2023 Monday Coronation of King Charles III
29/5/2023 Monday Late May Bank holiday
7/8/2023 Monday Summer Bank Holiday
30/11/2023 Thursday Saint Andrew’s Day
25/12/2023 Monday Christmas Day 
26/12/2023 Tuesday Boxing Day
Northern Ireland 2023 Holiday Calendar
2/1/2023 Monday New Year's Day
17/3/2023 Friday St. Patrick's Day
7/4/2023 Friday Good Friday
10/4/2023 Monday Easter Monday
1/5/2023 Monday May Bank Holiday
8/5/2023 Monday Coronation of King Charles III
29/5/2023 Monday Late May bank Holiday
12/7/2023 Wednesday Battle of Boyne
28/8/2023 Monday Summer Bank Holiday
25/12/2023 Monday Christmas Day
26/12/2023 Tuesday Boxing Day


Types of Leave in United Kingdom

Sick leave

Employees can take time off work if they’re ill. They only need to give their employer proof if they’re sick for more than seven days.

Employees can carry over any statutory holiday entitlement they have not taken due to illness over to the following leave year. If an employee is ill just before or during their holiday, they can take it as sick leave instead.

Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks, covered by the employer. Sick pay starts after four consecutive days of illness in a row and is £109.40 a week. Most companies offer additional sick pay on top of the statutory one, but the number of days or weeks that are offered vary widely.

Paternity leave

Employees are entitled to one or two consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave. Paternity leave cannot start before birth or placement for adoption and must finish within 56 days of that.

The employee gets the same amount of time off regardless of the number of children being born or adopted at that time. To be eligible, the employee must have been with the company for at least 26 weeks.

Statutory paternity leave is £172.48 or 90% of average weekly wage (whichever is lower). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

The employee can also take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal as well as five adoption appointments. The time off for the adoption appointments may be paid if the employee is adopting alone or has elected to be the primary adopter in the couple.

Maternity leave

Statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks, broken into ordinary maternity leave – the first 26 weeks and additional maternity leave – last 26 weeks. The employee doesn’t have to take all 52 weeks but must take the two weeks after the baby is born. Usually, the earliest the employee can start the leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. 

If an employee wishes to change the date of return, they must give notice to their employer at least eight weeks in advance.

Employees are entitled to take the leave regardless of the length of service; however, to be entitled to the maternity pay, they must meet specific eligibility requirements. For one, they need to have been employed for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before childbirth. The pay covers a maximum of 39 weeks. Employees get 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax for the first six weeks and then either £172.48 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

Neonatal care leave

A new Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill received Government backing in July, which allows parents with babies requiring hospital neonatal care to take 12 weeks’ paid leave in addition to their statutory maternity or paternity leave. If passed in its current form, the right will be available from the first day of employment, apply to parents whose babies are admitted to a hospital up to the age of 28 days and apply to babies who need to stay in the hospital for a continuous period of at least 7 days.

Parental leave

Employees are entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child, up to their 18th birthday. Parents can take a maximum of four weeks of parental leave per year (unless the employer agrees otherwise). 

The employee must take the leave as a whole week. Parental leave applies to each child, not to an individual’s job. Employees need to be in the company for more than a year to be eligible to the leave and give 21 days’ notice before starting it.

Employment rights are protected during parental leave when employees need to spend more time with their kids, look at new schools, visit grandparents and settle the child into new childcare arrangements.

Shared parental leave

An employee or their partner expecting or adopting a baby might be able to turn the maternity or paternity leave and pay into shared ones if both parents have been employed for at least 26 weeks. During the child’s first year, the couple can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks’ pay between themselves or assign all parental leave and pay to one of the two. The pay is the same as the maternity and paternity leave. 

Bereavement leave

An employer cannot penalize an employee for taking time off to deal with an emergency involving someone who depends on them as long as the reasons are genuine. The leave is unpaid and can be taken regardless of the length of service. It covers for partner, child, parents or anyone living in the household as a member of the family falling ill, being injured or assaulted, having a baby, unexpected incidents and death.

While many companies give 3 to 5 unpaid days, some also choose to offer paid leave and extended leave to cover grieving time. More details about each company’s policy can be found at either the employment contract or the company’s handbook.

Since 6 April 2020, employees have been entitled to take one or two week’s off work following the death of a child under 18 or a stillborn. The time off is paid at a rate of £172.48 weekly or 90% of the employee’s regular weekly earnings, whichever is less.

Work-related injury

Sick Pay is offered to employees who cannot work for at least four consecutive days. Statutory Sick Pay is £109.40 per week before tax, but an employer may choose to offer a more generous sick pay scheme.

Employees must keep records of any accidents by either visiting a doctor or reporting it at work to claim compensation or benefits under the Statutory Sick Pay.

When the employer pays injured employees a compensation, they do not have to report these payments or pay tax or National Insurance if:

  • the employee has agreed not to make a legal claim against the employer
  • the employee isn’t automatically entitled to the payment under their employment contract
  • the employer would have had to make the same payment to a member of the public under similar circumstances
  • both parties discussed and negotiated appropriate compensation

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