The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or simply the UK, has employment laws that protect the nation’s workers, much like many other countries in Europe. Employment laws, also known as labor laws, regulate the relationship between companies and staff.
According to employment laws, employees in the United Kingdom are entitled to many different forms of leave. Workers are allowed to take a certain number of days off per calendar year for annual vacations and various other reasons, including sick leave, injury leave, parental leave, and bereavement leave.
Though there are public holidays and bank holidays in the United Kingdom, on which many businesses (not just banks) are closed, employees are not entitled to compensation from their employers for taking off work for these holidays.
This article will go into detail about the kinds of leave to which all workers in the United Kingdom are entitled, based on British labor laws and regulations.
Annual leave in the United Kingdom
Employees in the United Kingdom have the legal right to paid annual leave. The statutory entitlement of leave for full-time employees is 28 days, which amounts to 5.6 weeks. The actual amount of annual leave employees receive is based on whether they work full-time or part-time.
Part-time workers also receive 5.6 weeks of leave but the amount of leave they take is proportional to the number of days they usually work. For example, if a part-time employee works two and a half days per week, they are entitled to 14 days of leave per year (2.5×5.6 = 14).
Employees working irregular hours per week can also calculate their annual leave. The maximum limit on the requirement for employers to offer paid leave is 28 days, even if employees work longer than full-time hours or more than five days per week.
An employer of record such as Skuad can help your company provide annual leave to your employees as well as other types of paid time off.
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Public holidays in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is comprised of the countries of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. That means there may be laws and customs unique to each country, including holidays.
There are eight regular national holidays observed throughout the United Kingdom as well as several holidays observed only in Scotland, such as Saint Andrew’s Day, and only in Northern Ireland, such as Saint Patrick’s Day and the Battle of the Boyne. There will also be a one-time national holiday on May 8, 2023, for the coronation of King Charles III.
Employers are not legally required to provide bank holidays or other public holidays as paid time off.
Sick leave in the United Kingdom
Employees are entitled to take sick leave from work when they get sick. If an employee gets sick during their annual leave, they can take sick days while they are sick rather than using their annual leave days.
If their sickness requires more than seven calendar days of sick leave, employees need to provide their employers with medical proof of the illness, called a fit note or a sick note. The sick note, signed by a medical professional upon assessing the employee for work fitness, will indicate whether an employee “may be fit for work” or “not fit for work.” The employee would give one copy of the sick note to their employer and keep one copy for themselves.
The following medical professionals are acceptable to provide an employee with a sick note:
- General practitioner
- Registered nurse
- Occupational therapist
Healthcare professionals should give a sick note to employees for free when they ask for one if they had been sick for over seven days. If the employee had been sick for under seven days, the healthcare professional may charge a fee for the assessment and sick note.
If an employee is unable to obtain a sick note, there is an alternative document called an Allied Health Professional Health and Work Report that could be provided to the employer if the employer agrees.
This document may be produced by a larger number of professionals. An employee may get it from any of the following:
- Speech and language therapist
- Art therapist
- Music therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Operating department practitioner
Employees who have been sick for fewer than seven days, they can self-certify that they had been sick upon returning to work. Employers and employees can agree on how to proceed with self-certification. Sending the self-certification to the employer by email is one option.
If employees have a prolonged illness and are too sick to work, they can be paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. Agricultural Sick Pay is another form of sick pay for employees who are paid the agricultural minimum wage; were employed before October 1, 2013; and have the right to Agricultural Sick Pay included in their employment contract.
Employers should accommodate any changes to the workplace for employees returning to work after being sick, particularly if the employee has a disability or health condition. The employer should make reasonable adjustments to the workplace so the employee can work. Some reasonable adjustment examples include shorter hours, a ramp, or equipment changes.
Your company can go above the mandatory minimums and develop policies that will attract and retain the best workers. An employer of record such as Skuad can help your company to develop competitive benefits packages that include generous leave policies.
Your benefits package can include all types of leave such as annual leave, sick leave, and other types of paid time off and the various types of leave the law requires employers to provide. Talk to our experts today to know how an employer of record can help you develop and implement leave policies.
Parental leave in the United Kingdom
Employees in the United Kingdom can take leave when they give birth, when their partner gives birth, or when they adopt a child. This type of leave includes maternity leave, parental leave, paternity leave, parental bereavement, Shared Parental Leave, and adoption leave. Employee rights and conditions of employment are protected when they are on these types of leave. They have the right to return to their job following leave.
Employees may also take unpaid parental leave to watch over their children during various circumstances such as settling into new schools, new childcare, spending more time with them, or for the child to spend more time with family.
Shared Parental Leave in the United Kingdom
Some types of leave can be taken by two partners together when they have a baby, adopt a baby, have a surrogate baby, or foster a child. This type of leave is called Shared Parental Leave (SPL) for which employees receive time off and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).
Up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay can be shared by both partners within the first year after the child was born or adopted. This leave can be taken in blocks or at all once and can be taken concurrently or staggered between the two employees.
To be eligible for SPL and ShPP, the employees must use fewer than 52 weeks of adoption leave or maternity leave and use the remaining leave as SPL. The employee also has to take less than 39 weeks of adoption pay or maternity pay and use the remaining pay as ShPP.
Maternity leave in the United Kingdom
Pregnant employees in the United Kingdom can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Ordinary Maternity Leave is the first 26 weeks of maternity leave. Leave can be taken as early as 11 weeks before the baby’s due date. Following Ordinary Maternity Leave is Additional Maternity Leave of an additional 26 weeks. At least two weeks of maternity leave following childbirth is mandatory. Four weeks of maternity leave is mandatory if the employee is a factory worker.
Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. The first six weeks are paid out at 90% of the employee’s weekly earnings, and the following 33 weeks are either 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings or £156.66, whichever is lower.
Employees are eligible for maternity leave if the baby dies after the 24th week of pregnancy.
Paternity leave in the United Kingdom
Employees are eligible for Paternity Leave and Paternity Pay if their partner has a baby, adopts a baby, or has a baby through a surrogacy arrangement. The paid time off for Paternity Leave is one or two weeks, depending on eligibility.
Bereavement leave is time off from work to mourn the death of a family member. In the United Kingdom, employees are entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave of two weeks if their child under 18 dies or if they have a stillborn baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay is £156.66 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is less.
Companies can offer more time off for bereavement leave but can only recover the two weeks of statutory pay for each employee and each death.
Work-related injury in the United Kingdom
Injured employees may be compensated if they were injured at work.
Easily Manage Leave Policy in the United Kingdom
When creating a leave policy in the United Kingdom, employers must include the minimum statutory leave entitlements. Companies can go beyond the minimum statutory entitlements for leave if they want to attract top talent. For example, a company could include more time off and more annual vacation time as part of its comprehensive benefits package.
Companies that are expanding internationally can easily hire employees for remote positions in the United Kingdom or 160 countries other countries across the globe. Recruiting remote staff can be easy with an employer of record such as Skuad.
Employers of record can do human resources tasks such as:
- Hiring employees and drafting compliant contracts
- Ensuring local labor law compliance
- Administering benefits
- Onboarding new hires
- Processing payroll
For easy hiring, accurate payroll processing, benefits administration, labor law compliance, and prompt payroll tax payments, work with a global employer of record such as Skuad. Book a demo.