A frequently asked question: how many days holiday must a part-time employee be given?

The answer is that they must be given pro rata what they would get if they worked full-time. A full-timer is entitled by law to at least 28 days, though this includes any paid bank holidays.

The best way to calculate holiday for part-timers is like this. Look at what you would give if they worked full-time. Bank holidays are treated the same as the rest of the holiday entitlement, so the full time ordinary holiday and bank holiday are added together. The total is then divided by 5, as the number of days in a full-time week, and then multiplied by the number of days your part-time employee will work each week. The result is the number of days of holiday to which that employee is entitled, inclusive of bank holidays.

Because the bank holidays are already included in the total, at the start of the leave year days need to be deducted from the total, and allocated to cover the number of bank holidays in that year that fall upon days of the week when the employee would normally be working.

So, for example, an employee is to work three days a week. You decided that if full time you would give them say 20 days plus the 8 normal bank holidays. Take the total of 28 and divide by 5, to get 5.6. This is the amount of total holiday they get for each day they work. Times the 5.6 by 3, as they work for three days a week, and round it up. They get a total of 17 days holiday days per year, inclusive of bank holidays. Then allocate from that 17 days the bank holidays that fall on days they would normally work. The rest they can choose when they take it, under your usual holiday process.

Another example is an employee who works each Monday only. You decide that if full time you would give them say 25 days plus the 8 normal bank holidays. Take the total of 33 and divide by 5, to get 6.6. This is the amount of total holiday they get for each day they work. Times the 6.6 by 1, as they work for one day a week. They get a total of 6.6 days rounded up to 7 holiday days per year, inclusive of bank holidays. Then allocate from that 6.6 days the bank holidays that fall on days they would normally work. The rest they can choose when they take it, under your usual holiday process. Because in this example the one day they work is on a Monday and most bank holidays fall on Mondays, they would end up with very little holiday to choose when they took otherwise: so you may wish to let them work an alternative day to the Monday in a bank holiday week, and put the days holiday back towards the holiday they can choose.

This approach makes for fairer comparison between full and part-timers, but also between two part-timers who work on different days of the week. Because the bank holidays do not fall evenly across the week, if bank holidays are not added to the total and then pro rated as described above, an employee would works Monday to Wednesday will get much more holiday than one who works Wednesday to Friday. This is because there are so many bank holidays at the start of the week compared to the end. Pro rating the equivalent number of days to bank holidays evens out the effect of the benefit across the week.

This approach works when an employee works the same number of hours on each day that they work. If they work variable hours, the principles stay the same, but there needs to be a breakdown into the number of holiday hours for calculation of total entitlement and also for allocation of time off. That is all rather more complicated and you may wish to start with a cool wet towel around your head or take profession advice.

Straight forward or not, it’s worth a bit of maths in order to achieve fairness all round, but make sure you have a calculator to hand!

More advice on the legalities and practicalities in respect of holidays can be obtained from Frances Barker, Employment Partner at Blocks Solicitors. Contact her on 01473 343911 or frb@blockslegal.co.uk

The above is general comment only and individual advice should be taken