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Holiday! It may be so nice, but how can changing your working hours impact what you’re entitled to?

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Holiday! It may be so nice, but how can changing your working hours impact what you’re entitled to?

If, like me, you find yourself in a regular state of confusion about how much holiday you’re entitled to, how much holiday you’ve spent and more importantly how much you’ve got left - you’ll know that each day of peace and quiet comes at a premium.

Under EU and Government directive, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year; known as statutory leave entitlement. This will vary based on the number of days per week you work and may be, at your employer’s discretion, inclusive of bank holidays. If you work the equivalent of 5 days a week then your statutory leave entitlement is 28 days per year. This can be calculated in most cases by multiplying the number of days you work, by your annual entitlement. Those who work irregular hours are subject to a more complex calculation, which can be done at Gov.uk.

If you change the terms of your employment, by increasing or decreasing the number of days you work, your entitlement to holiday will not change. However, in line with the ECJ ruling in ‘Greenfield v The Care Bureau Ltd’ the amount of holiday a worker is entitled to will be determined in accordance with said worker's contractual pattern and the hours and days actually worked.

What does ‘Greenfield v The Care Bureau Ltd’ mean for my employees?

This decisions sets out some simple guidelines for employers when calculating the holiday an employee is entitled to on the back of a change in their working terms.

1. As an employer you cannot reduce any holiday entitlement that has already been accrued if the employee reduces their pattern of work to part-time, or lower than it was previously.

2. If your employee exhausts their entitlement during a pattern of part-time work and subsequently increases their hours, or changes to full-time working hours, their exhausted entitlement from the first period of work must be ‘parked.’ Any holiday accrual in this new period of work must be calculated in accordance with their new pattern of work.

3. Each period of work, with a specific working pattern, will be treated in isolation. When your employee increases their hours throughout the year, different calculations must be carried out for leave entitlement in each period. You are under no obligation to recalculate holiday entitlement retrospectively for the whole year, based on new working patterns.


Mistakes in calculating the amount of holiday you have accrued or the pay in lieu you’re entitled to can open the door to an employment tribunal claim; normally under the Working Time Regulations 1998 or Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

We recognise and understand that your biggest asset is your people. It is your employees who often create the first impression for your business so it’s important that you look after them so they look after you and your business. We pride ourselves on being able to support your business from the beginning of your employee’s employment all the way to the end, as well as everything in between. Why not contact us today to book your free consultation to discuss your legal requirements in further detail, we’ll be delighted to talk to you!

By Alex Clark.

The contents of this article are intended solely for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or financial advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.

© 2015 Hybrid Legal Limited.