Employee Rights: Holidays, Bank Holidays & Sick Leave

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We briefly explore the rights of employees when it comes to holiday entitlement, bank holidays and sick leave.

Annual Leave Entitlement

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 a worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks' annual leave in each year. This is equivalent to 28 days for those who work five days a week. The Working Time Regulations 1998 came into force on 1 October 1998 and introduced a statutory entitlement to a minimum amount of paid annual leave. This was initially three weeks a year, but was increased to four weeks from November 1999, to 4.8 weeks from October 2007 and to 5.6 weeks from April 2009.

There are some groups of workers that are excluded from the provisions relating to paid holiday under the Working Time Regulations 1998 although they are protected by other legislation placing limits on their working time.

The four weeks' leave provided may only be taken in the leave year to which it relates, or else it is lost. There is nothing to prevent an employer allowing a worker to carry forward unused holiday, whether accrued under the Working Time Regulations 1998 or under their contract of employment, if the worker genuinely does not wish to take it in the relevant leave year. However, the employer cannot compel a worker to carry over holiday, and any agreement to do so would not be binding if it infringes regulation 13(9) of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

On termination of employment, a worker is entitled to pay in lieu of unused statutory holiday from their final leave year.

Bank Holiday Rights

There is no statutory right to time off for a public/bank holiday, and this tends to be something for the employer to consider within the terms of the contract of employment. There is however case law to suggest that in the absence of express provision within the contract to time off, an employee/worker may have an implied right in this regard.

Sick Leave & Sick Pay

Issues surrounding sick pay, including matters concerning contractual sick pay and Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’) is a complex area and this note is not intended to go into this in any great detail. Simply put, In order to be eligible for SSP, the employee must have a day of incapacity for work which sits within a period of incapacity for work which is defined as any period of four or more consecutive days.

Employees are entitled to up to 28 weeks SSP in any period of incapacity for work. After 28 weeks, any sickness benefit entitlement will be paid directly to the employee from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Any payments received from the DWP should be notified to the employer so that corresponding deductions can be made from any contractual sickness pay an employee may be entitled to receive from the employer.

Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to provide employees with particulars of terms and conditions surrounding sickness and ability to work. This information can either be contained in the employee's written statement of particulars of employment, or the Company Handbook. It is a matter for the employer as to whether it wishes to confer additional sickness rights to the employee.

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This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice. You should not rely on the information in this article. Fiona Bruce Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article. Whilst Fiona Bruce Solicitors makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Fiona Bruce Solicitors excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website. Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.