What are your rights to Holiday Entitlement and the potential implications of a change in European Law.

Your Right to Paid Holiday


All "workers" have the right to take paid holiday.  The term worker is wider than employees and includes those who work under a contract to personally provide their services to an employer. Those who are genuinely self-employed are not entitled to paid holiday.

A worker’s entitlement to holiday arises from two sources.

Statutory Holiday Entitlement

The first is a worker’s statutory holiday entitlement. This statutory entitlement is governed by the Working Time Directive (WTD) and the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR).  The WTD is European Union legislation and is implemented into UK law through the WTR.

Contractual Holiday Entitlement

The second is a worker’s contractual holiday entitlement.  It is not uncommon for a worker’s contractual entitlement to be more than their statutory entitlement.  Holiday in excess of statutory holiday is governed by workers employment contract.  

Under the WTR, those working 5 or more days each week are entitled to 5.6 weeks (or 28 days) holiday each leave year.  The entitlement is pro-rated for those who work part time.  The 5.6 weeks is comprised of four weeks paid holiday, which are provided for under the Directive, and an additional 1.6 weeks paid holiday entitlement, which are provided for by the WTR.

A worker’s statutory holiday entitlement may normally only be taken in the leave year to which it relates. The general position therefore is that a worker will need to use such holiday entitlement during that leave year or they will lose it.  There are certain exceptions to this such as where a worker is on maternity leave or sick leave (and they have been unable to take such holiday in the leave year it accrues). Where these exceptions apply, it has been determined that a worker can carry over such untaken statutory holiday for a period of 18 months after they should have taken it. 

European Court Challenge

This long standing position is currently being challenged in the European Court in the case of King v The Sash Window Workshop Limited. One of the central issues of this case which needs to be determined, is whether the statutory holiday entitlement that Mr King had accrued over many years but not taken (because he was told it would not be paid) should have been paid when his employment ended.

If the case succeeds, it could open the door for claims for unpaid statutory holiday claims going back many years.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including employers and workers struggling to get to grips with holiday entitlement issues.

Our specialist Employment Lawyers are experts in resolving employment issues.  If you would like more information on the case, the law surrounding holidays or to discuss your employment law issues call us today on on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

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