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Check if you're entitled to paid holidays

This advice applies to England

You’re entitled to paid holiday if you’re a worker. Workers include:

  • employees

  • apprentices

  • zero-hours workers

  • casual workers

  • agency workers

Even if your employer says you’re self-employed, you might still be a worker. You’’ll probably be a worker if you:

  • do the work yourself and can’t send someone else - the law calls this doing the work ‘personally’

  • aren’t doing the work as part of your business - like where the person using your service is a client or customer

If you’re not sure if your client is a worker, check their employment status.

Check how much paid holiday you should have

The law says workers should get 5.6 weeks’ holiday each year - this is known as your ‘statutory entitlement’. Your employer might give you more than this but it’s up to them - check your contract. 

If your contract gives you more than 5.6 weeks’ holiday, the first 5.6 weeks are your statutory entitlement, anything more is called ‘contractual’ holiday. 

Bank holidays aren’t extra to your statutory entitlement - your employer can ask you to take bank holidays off using your paid holiday. Check your contract or employer’s leave policy to see if you get your bank holidays extra to your holiday entitlement. Read more about working on bank holidays.

If you work the same number of days each week, 5.6 weeks translates into the following days’ holiday per year:  

Days you work a week

Days’ paid holiday you’re entitled to a year

5 or more

28

4

22.4

3

16.8

2

11.2

1

5.6

If you work irregular days or hours your entitlement might be more difficult to calculate. You can use the holiday entitlement calculator on GOV.UK to help you.

If you’re in the armed forces, police or civil protection services, your contract will tell you how much paid holiday you’ll get.  Civil protection services include firefighters and coastguards. 

When you can take your holiday

You have to take your holiday in a period called a ‘leave year’. Your contract or written statement will say when that begins and ends. It might not be the same as the calendar year. Read more about a leave year.

You also have to give your employer notice of when you want to go on holiday. If you give them the right notice, you can take as much holiday as you’re entitled to  - unless you’ve been in your job for less than a year. Read more about how much notice you have to give your employer

If you started your job less than a year ago

You can only take the holiday you’ve built up since you started your job. You’ll build up holiday entitlement for each month you work - this means if you’ve been in your job for a month, you can take 1/12th of your entitlement. 

If you’ve only worked for part of a leave year

If you start or stop work part way through a leave year, your holiday entitlement depends on how much of the year you’ve worked. You can use the calculator on GOV.UK to find out how much holiday you’re entitled to.

If you leave your job part way through a leave year, you’re entitled to be paid for any holiday you haven’t taken. Use the holiday calculator on GOV.UK to work out how much holiday you’re owed. 

If you don’t get paid for it, you should write to your former employer to ask for it. Give them a deadline in which to pay you - like 2 weeks. 

If they don’t pay, contact Acas early conciliation saying you want to make a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. You must contact Acas within 3 months less one day from when your former employer should have paid you. 

If you haven’t used all your holiday entitlement in a leave year

You’ll normally have to use your holiday entitlement in the leave year it relates to. The only exceptions to this are where you haven’t been able to take it before the end of the leave year because:

 Read more about when you can carry holiday over. 

If your employer says you’re not entitled to paid holiday

This might happen if your employer has wrongly told you that you’re not entitled to any paid holiday because you’re self-employed and not a worker or an employee

If you’ve been wrongly called self-employed, or your employer has prevented you from taking your full holiday entitlement, you can take up to 4 weeks’ statutory holiday into the next leave year. This is called ‘carrying over’ holiday. If your employer keeps not letting you take it, you can keep carrying up to 4 weeks over into your next leave years.

If you leave your job, you’re entitled to be paid for any holiday you haven’t taken. This can include holiday you’ve carried over from previous leave years. 

If your employer won’t pay you for holiday you haven’t taken, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

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