The UK’s Department for Business and Trade, recently launched a consultation on proposals to ensure that holiday pay and entitlement received by part-year and irregular hours workers is proportionate to the time they spend working. In our response, we welcome the opportunity to respond on behalf of the people profession and provide details on what this could mean in practice if implemented.

"For part-year workers with irregular hours, we recommend accruing holiday entitlement ‘as you go’ on a rolling basis. A 52-week leave entitlement reference period is not practical and could have unintended consequences, resulting in either too much or too little holiday entitlement being awarded."

Charles Cotton, Senior Performance and Reward Adviser, CIPD

Our recommendations

Holiday entitlement should be accrued on a rolling monthly basis

In our letter to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Business and Trade, we set out six  key reasons for proposing that holiday entitlement for part-year workers and part-time workers with irregular hours should be accrued on a ‘as you go’, rolling monthly basis:

  1. it‘s not feasible for employers to use a ‘fixed pot’ of annual leave for part-time workers with irregular hours
  2. introducing a 52-work holiday entitlement reference period could undermine labour market flexibility and may not be workable for many employers, because it assumes that the employment contract is ongoing
  3. many part-year workers, such as those in seasonal work, are taken on to meet fluctuating demand and are not even necessarily hired for a whole year
  4. people on these working arrangements won’t necessarily know whether they are being given the correct leave entitlement or the correct holiday pay unless they regularly check and understand their payslips
  5. a 52-week holiday reference period could make it hard for some of these people to work out their holiday entitlement and to calculate their holiday pay based on what happened to them over the previous year. This could be especially true for low-waged workers.
  6. many of these low-waged workers could be in receipt of universal credit, so receiving an unexpected and significant amount of holiday arrears could affect their benefit eligibility.

Holiday pay and entitlement should be calculated in the same way

When it comes to calculating holiday pay, the most straightforward approach for employers would be to apply the same methodology to calculate both holiday entitlement and holiday pay. This would mean calculating holiday pay based on the same 12.07% calculation that employers currently use for holiday entitlement, based on basic pay and actual hours worked for the past month. Doing this would:

  • bypass the challenge that not all payroll services will have average pay data to be able to base holiday pay on average pay over a 12-month period.
  • avoid potential issues for businesses having to calculate a ‘flat average working day’ for workers working widely differing hours on an ongoing basis.
  • reinforce the flexibility that is inherent in these working arrangements.

What evidence did we draw on?

To inform our recommendations, we drew on a variety of sources of insight, including consultation with:

 Members of the CIPD's senior reward network, which is made up of senior reward practitioners from across the private, public and voluntary sectors. 
•    Justine Riccomini, in her role as Public Policy Lead for the CIPD's West Yorkshire Branch, employment tax expert at the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland, and Board Director at the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals.

Read our full recommendations

Our letter to the Department for Business and Trade
PDF document 197.2 KB

Explore our related content

Employment law
Working time: UK employment law

CIPD guidance on the legality of working hours in the UK. Workable hours and breaks are directed by the UK's Working Time Regulations, formally part of the EU Working Time Directive. Here we explore key legislation and how the courts see claims against employers.

For Members
Working hours and time off work

Understand the basics of the Working Time Regulations in the UK, working hours trends, holidays and special leave.

Sabbaticals: Guide for people professionals

This guide provides advice for employers on offering a period of sabbatical leave

Employment law
Terms and conditions of employment: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources covering terms and conditions of employment, including Q&As and relevant case law

For Members
Explore all our views and insights


Help us shape
public policy

Our work with public policy-makers is most impactful when it's informed by the insights, opinions and experiences of people professionals. Find out what we're currently working on and how you can get involved.

Callout Image