Leave Policy in the United Kingdom

Shraddha Saxena
Manage the United Kingdom’s leave policies and holidays with Gloroots, streamlining annual leave, holiday requests, and organizing employee leave efficiently

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Table of Content

In the United Kingdom, the Leave Policy is essential for promoting employee welfare and ensuring a harmonious work-life balance. Understanding this policy is crucial for both employers and employees. Explore the comprehensive regulations governing various types of leave entitlements in the UK, fostering efficient management and a supportive work environment. Employers looking to hire employees from the UK or through an Employer of Record (EOR) in the UK must be knowledgeable about these regulations to ensure compliance and effective workforce management.

Annual Leave (Vacation)

  • Full-time employees in the UK are entitled to 20 working days of paid annual leave each year, along with 8 days of Public Holidays.
  • The annual leave period spans from 1st January to 31st December annually.
  • Employers have the discretion to decide whether unused vacation days can be carried over to the following year, which should be clearly outlined in the employment agreement.
  • Employers must ensure that employees utilize their holiday entitlement within a single year, with exceptions for carrying over additional untaken leave, typically up to a maximum of 20 days.
  • In cases where an employee couldn't take annual leave due to illness, they may carry over up to 20 days of their entitlement for the next two years.
  • Employers have the flexibility to determine when employees can take their annual leave, provided sufficient notice is given.
  • Negative leave balances are permitted, and any outstanding leave will be deducted from the final salary upon the employee's departure.
  • Employers may choose to implement an unlimited leave policy at their discretion, subject to approval.
  • Upon termination, any unused leave days will be compensated with a payout.

Public Holidays

  • 1 Jan 2024 (Monday): New Year’s Day
  • 2 Jan 2024 (Tuesday): New Year’s Day Holiday (Scotland)
  • 17 Mar 2024 (Sunday): Saint Patrick’s Day (Northern Ireland)
  • 18 Mar 2024 (Monday): Saint Patrick’s Day Holiday (Northern Ireland)
  • 29 Mar 2024 (Friday): Good Friday
  • 1 Apr 2024 (Monday): Easter Monday (England, Northern Ireland & Wales)
  • 6 May 2024 (Monday): May Bank Holiday
  • 27 May 2024 (Monday): Late May Bank Holiday
  • 12 Jul 2024 (Friday): Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland)
  • 5 Aug 2024 (Monday): August Bank Holiday (Scotland)
  • 26 Aug 2024 (Monday): Summer Bank Holiday (England, Northern Ireland & Wales)
  • 30 Nov 2024 (Saturday): St Andrew’s Day (Scotland)
  • 2 Dec 2024 (Monday): St Andrew’s Day Holiday (Scotland)
  • 25 Dec 2024 (Wednesday): Christmas Day
  • 26 Dec 2024 (Thursday): Boxing Day

Sick Days

  • Employees in the UK are eligible for up to 28 weeks of paid sick leave, with Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) set at a minimum of 116.75 GBP per week. This payment does not apply for the first three days of illness.
  • If the employee's sick leave extends beyond seven days, including weekends and bank holidays, a medical certificate from a qualified medical professional is required.
  • Additional sick pay beyond SSP may be provided by the employer if stipulated in the employment contract. After SSP ends, long-term sick employees may qualify for Disability Benefits from the Government.

Maternity Leave

  • Female employees in the UK are entitled to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave, with an additional 26 weeks of ordinary leave, followed by 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.
  • While the full 52 weeks of leave are not mandatory, employees must take a minimum of two weeks following the child’s birth, though this requirement may vary by sector.
  • Mothers are compensated through Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), which covers up to 39 weeks. During the first 6 weeks, they receive 90.00% of their average weekly earnings, and for the remaining 33 weeks, they receive £184.03 or 90.00% of their average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
  • Let's say Emily, a new mother, decides to take advantage of this policy. She takes 6 weeks of leave before her baby is due and then continues with the remaining weeks after the birth.

During the first 6 weeks, Emily receives 90.00% of her average weekly earnings as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), and for the following 33 weeks, she receives either £184.03 per week or 90.00% of her average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Paternity Leave

  • Employees in the UK can take one to two weeks of paid paternity leave, which must start after the child's birth and end within 52 weeks from the birth date.
  • This leave cannot be utilized before the child's birth, and if opting for two weeks, they can be taken together or separately.
  • Statutory paternity pay during this leave is £184.03 per week or 90.00% of the employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
  • To qualify for this leave, employees must have worked for their employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the 'qualifying week.'
  • In cases of adoption, the second adopter in a couple may also be entitled to up to two weeks of statutory paternity leave and pay.
  • Couples can decide which partner takes statutory adoption leave and which takes statutory paternity leave.
  • Both partners must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks to be eligible for this leave.
  • Opting for adoption leave at a later date, especially upon matching, may affect statutory adoption pay.
  • This pay is calculated based on the final 8 weeks' salary before taking leave.

Parental Leave

  • Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in the UK allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
  • This leave can be shared between parents, and up to 37 weeks of pay are possible, calculated at a rate of £184.03 per week or 90.00% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
  • Employees must take this leave within the child's first year.
  • Unpaid Parental Leave is also available, allowing parents to take up to 4 weeks per child annually until the child turns 18.
  • Each parent can take this leave, subject to agreement with their employer.
  • Leave is taken in full weeks unless the employer allows otherwise or if the child has a disability.

Adoption Leave 

Adopting employees in the UK can take up to 52 weeks of adoption leave, starting when the child joins their family. They may receive adoption pay for 39 weeks, starting at 90% of average earnings for 6 weeks, then transitioning to a standard rate or 90% of earnings.

Prospective adopters must notify their employer within seven days of being matched with a child. After up to 26 weeks of leave, they can return to their previous job. Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), provided for 39 weeks, requires continuous employment of at least 26 weeks before the notification week.

SAP is given to the adopter taking leave in couple adoptions, while the partner may qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay (Adoption), ensuring support for both parents.

Other Leave 

Caregiver’s Leave: 

Employees in the UK are entitled to take up to one week of unpaid caregiving leave annually, with a minimum notice of three days. This leave allows employees to arrange care for a dependent with a physical or mental illness, injury, disability, or due to advanced age, irrespective of their relationship to the employee.

Jury Duty Leave: 

Employers in the UK must grant unpaid leave to full-time employees for jury duty or as witnesses in legal proceedings. Employees must provide evidence of their jury summons, and any additional compensation is at the discretion of the employer.

Public Service Leave: 

Employees in the UK have the right to reasonable unpaid time off to fulfill public duties such as serving as justices of the peace or local councilors.

Parental Grief Leave: 

Parents in the UK who experience the loss of a child under 18 or due to stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy are eligible for two weeks of bereavement leave, with payment at £184.03 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings.

Compassionate Leave: 

While there's no statutory bereavement leave, employers in the UK can establish policies for compassionate leave based on individual circumstances.

Educational Development Leave: 

Typically unpaid, educational leave eligibility depends on specific criteria, such as the relevance of the training to the employee's role and the organization's size.

Hassle-Free Leave Policy Management in the UK with Gloroots

Managing employee leave can be a daunting task, especially as your business expands globally. Here at Gloroots, we understand the challenges involved in navigating leave policies, particularly in the context of UK's labor laws. Our platform is designed to ensure compliance, maintain accurate records, streamline leave requests, and generate insightful reports. By partnering with Gloroots, you can focus on business growth while we handle the intricacies of managing employee leave effectively. Reach out to us to explore how Gloroots can simplify your HR operations and enhance efficiency in the UK.

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