11 January, 2007
The DTI has announced that the minimum holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 will be increased from 20 to 28 days per annum advises Forbes Solicitors.
At present, some employers allow their staff to have the 20 days annual leave in accordance with the regulations. However, this 20 day leave entitlement includes the 8 statutory bank holidays. This change now requires employers who operate in this manner to add the 8 statutory bank holidays to the 20 day minimum annual leave entitlement.
Statutory annual leave entitlement will be increased in two stages, rising from 20 to 24 days on 1st October 2007 and then from 24 days to 28 days on 1st October 2008.
Although there will be further consultation in relation to the implementation of these changes, it seems inevitable that the increase will go ahead.
The increase will move UK workers' annual leave entitlement closer to that of other European countries, where holiday allowances are typically more generous. Compared with the current minimum allowance of 20 days in the UK for example, workers in the Republic of Ireland are entitled to 29 days. The highest minimum entitlement is Austria with 38 days.
Peter Byrne, Head of Employment at Forbes Solicitors comments "Many companies already allow their employees to take statutory bank holidays as leave in addition to their normal annual entitlement. Most companies already recognise that good holiday provision makes good business sense. Holiday entitlement can be a key factor in recruiting and retaining staff. Holidays are also important for productivity, help minimise sick leave and help to keep people motivated and refreshed. The proposed changes in relation to those employers who have chosen not to grant bank holiday leave entitlement in the past have been staggered so that they can seek advice as to their legal obligations and ensure their compliance before the changes take effect".