Member Article

Preparing for increased staff holidays

With Jill Lee of Business Link

Employees will soon be entitled to four extra days annual leave following a change in the law. From April 1, 2009, the minimum statutory entitlement increases from 4.8 to 5.6 weeks a year and businesses need to be aware of how these changes will affect them.

To prepare employers for the change, Business Link has prepared an online guide to implementing increased holiday entitlement, which is available at www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast. The guide identifies what your business needs to do to comply with regulations and provides an interactive tool to calculate increased holiday entitlement.

Individual employers must negotiate with staff if the increased leave will include public holidays, as paid time off does not legally have to be provided for these holidays and can be included in workers’ minimum leave entitlement. In the UK, public holidays include bank holidays, common law holidays and holidays by royal announcement.

Holiday pay should be based on a normal week’s wage and part time workers are entitled to the same holidays as full time workers on a pro rata basis. Under the Working Time Regulations Act, employees are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of leave - calculated according to the type of work performed.

Workers on fixed contracts are entitled to receive payment due for a week’s work. For those on variable hours and pay, including piece work, bonus or commission, payment should equal the average hourly rate multiplied by the normal working hours in a week. For shift workers, payment is calculated on the average weekly hours of work in the preceding 12 weeks at the average hourly rate.

In most cases it is unlawful to provide payment in place of the employee taking the time off, as employees need to have rest away from work for health and safety reasons.

Payment in lieu is normally only allowed when employment comes to an end. However, payment in lieu of taking remaining holiday at the end of a leave year may be offered. Currently, this is only allowed for contractual entitlement above the statutory four week minimum. From April 1 2009, payment in lieu cannot be provided for anything less than 5.6 weeks.

Employers will need to notify staff in writing of any increase in holiday entitlement through a letter to staff or by a statement on pay slips.

Business Link has also prepared a practical guide to the most common employment law issues facing new and emerging businesses, including recruitment, induction training, employee rights and discipline at work. A copy is available by contacting Business Link on 0845 600 9 006.

Business Link’s team of expert brokers operate across the region in local access points and on a mobile basis. For further information about Business Link visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast or call 0845 600 9 006.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by BENE .

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