Extra days holidays

Winter’s here, the nights are drawing in, and you’re already starting to think about your next year’s summer vacation. This year however brings us all some cheery news to counteract the onslaught of dark nights and days ahead and Christmas adverts.

Sarah RobinsonThe law is for once on our side. Very quietly, we have been given a new bonus - and not many people know that as of October this year, all workers are now entitled to a minimum of 4.8 weeks statutory holiday which is an increase from the previous minimum of four weeks. Sarah Robinson from Premier Legal (www.premier-legal.co.uk) kindly explains the way it will all work…

This legislation was introduced to increase the statutory minimum to include the 8 days that many workers get for Bank and Public holidays. This legislation extends the statutory holidays provided under the Working Time Regulations.

Although there is no legislation in the UK to provide time off or pay for Bank or Public holidays and while many employees will have a contractual right to paid time off for Bank holidays there are lots that don’t. The new legislation will address that imbalance and will no doubt be popular with employees and trade unions; however the cost to employers is estimated to be £4bn. If you or your employees were working to the statutory minimum of 20 days including bank and public holidays, this needs to change now to become at least 24 days.

These regulations do not mean that everyone has to have Bank or Public holidays off; there is still no legislation for these days. The regulations just increase the holiday entitlement for the year. This increase will also mean that your employees’ terms and conditions of employment will change; they should therefore be notified of the changes within a month of them happening.

The new regulations came into force on 1 October 2007 when the statutory minimum will become 4.8 weeks or 24 days for a ‘normal’ five day a week employee, this is due to increase in April 2009 to 5.6 weeks or 28 days. Of course, part-time employees get a pro-rata increase.

These changes would be simple enough if everyone started their holiday year on 1 October, unfortunately this is rarely the case and we will all have to be involved in some mathematical calculations to work out entitlement.

This is what the Regulations say;

2) The period of additional leave to which a worker is entitled under paragraph (1) is (a) in any leave year beginning on or after 1st October 2007 but before 1st April 2008, 0.8 weeks;

(b) in any leave year beginning before 1st October 2007, a proportion of 0.8 weeks equivalent to the proportion of the year beginning on 1st October 2007 which would have elapsed at the end of that leave year;

(c) in any leave year beginning on 1st April 2008, 0.8 weeks;

(d) in any leave year beginning after 1st April 2008 but before 1st April 2009, 0.8 weeks and a proportion of another 0.8 weeks equivalent to the proportion of the year beginning on 1st April 2009 which would have elapsed at the end of that leave year;

(e) in any leave year beginning on or after 1st April 2009, 1.6 weeks. Don’t you just love the way that government draftsmen write everything so that it is completely clear and understandable. The upshot is that if you pay less than 24 days (4.8 weeks) holiday you will need to add the pro-rata difference for any period of your holiday year that is after 1 October this year. It gets even more complicated next year, but we’ll explain that nearer the time.

Remember these changes do not affect you if you already give your employees a minimum of 28 days (5.6 weeks) holiday, including public and bank holidays and the first phase will not affect you if you currently give your employees 24 days (4.8 weeks) holiday, including Public and Bank holidays, however you should be aware that the increase may affect you if you have a holiday buy back scheme.

You are probably aware that employees must be encouraged to take their statutory holiday entitlement of 20 days and that payments may not be made in lieu of holidays not taken. However, where holidays are contractual and above the statutory minimum it is permissible to buy back the ‘excess’ entitlement. With these new regulations in force you must remember that the statutory minimum becomes 24 days (4.8 weeks), therefore, you will only be able to buy back contractual holidays in excess of this amount.

Sarah Robinson
MD - Premier Legal