Know how much holiday to give your staff

Calculating holiday entitlement for atypical workers


There are various ways of working out the holiday entitlement for workers who don't have regular working arrangements or patterns.

Part-time workers

Paid holiday entitlement is calculated pro-rata for part-time workers.

For example, if a member of staff works three days a week, they are entitled to 16.8 days (5.6 x 3).

Shift workers

It is sometimes easier to calculate holiday entitlement as shifts.

For example, if a member of staff works four 12-hour shifts followed by four days off, the average working week is 3.5 12-hour shifts. So 5.6 weeks' holiday is 5.6 x 3.5 = 19.6 12-hour shifts.

For other shift patterns, it may be easiest to calculate according to the established repeating pattern.

More irregular working patterns: calculating holidays in hours

Annualised hours

If a member of staff works annualised hours, you need to calculate how many hours a week they work on average over the whole year.

For example, if a member of staff works a total of 1,600 hours a year, or 34.48 hours a week over 46.4 weeks of the year, the holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks x 34.48 hours a week = 193.09 hours of holiday for the year.

Compressed hours

For someone working compressed hours, for example, a 36-hour week over four days instead of five, their annual holiday entitlement is 36 hours x 5.6 weeks = 201.6 hours of holiday for the year.

Rather than taking a day's holiday, they would take the number of hours that they would have otherwise worked on that day (ie for 36 hours worked over four days, they would take nine hours' holiday for each day otherwise worked).

Calculating no fixed hours contracts (casual work, including zero-hours contracts)

To calculate the average hourly rate, only the hours worked and how much was paid for them should be counted. Take the average rate over the last 12 weeks.

A 'week' usually runs from Sunday to Saturday. Only use another 7-day period (like Thursday to Wednesday) if that's how a worker's pay is calculated.

You can also get further information from the LRA Workplace Information Service on Tel 03300 555 300.

Part days

Calculations may result in part days, eg 22.4 days for someone working four days a week. In some cases, it may be easier to work the holidays out in hours.

If this is the case, you could:

  • Allow the worker to leave early or arrive late one day. For example, for someone working an eight-hour day taking 0.4 of a day's holiday, you could allow them to leave after working for four hours and 48 minutes (480 minutes x 0.6 of a working day = 288 minutes) or allow them to arrive three hours and 12 minutes late (0.4 of a working day).
  • Round the entitlement up to the nearest full day - or half day if this is still easy for you to administer. You cannot round entitlements down.
  • Allow the worker to carry the part day over into the next leave year (and then perhaps round up to the nearest full day).
  • Pay them for a part day. However, you can only do this if the worker's paid holiday entitlement is more than 5.6 weeks as you cannot pay a worker in lieu of an untaken statutory holiday - see calculating and paying holiday pay.

Term time or part-year workers

Recent case law has determined workers employed on a continuous contract throughout the year, and who work for varying hours during certain weeks of the year, such as those who work only term time, are entitled to 5.6 weeks of leave each year. This entitlement applies even though there are some weeks in the year when they do not work.

In such instances, holiday pay is calculated by averaging the pay received during the 12 weeks before the commencement of their leave. If there are weeks during the 12-week period where no pay was received, these weeks are disregarded and the employer must count back to include a total of 12 weeks in which pay was received.

Although there may be times when a part-year worker receives a higher payment than a full-time worker - this is compliant with the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000, as the part-time worker is not being treated less favourably. There is no legislative provision to prevent part-time workers from being treated more favourably.

  • LRA Workplace Information Service
    03300 555 300
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