Independent Retailer Employment Advice from @elliswhittam for #IndieRetail

Holiday Entitlement

It is holiday season again and for many retailers working out what holiday entitlements their staff are entitled to can be a headache. The complexity is largely due to EU law requiring that all workers receive a minimum annual entitlement. Hopefully this blog from Ellis Whittam’s employment law team will help…

Amount of holiday

First of all it is worth noting that all staff, including casual workers, the Saturday boy or girl, the student working during their holidays as well as both regular and full time employees, are entitled to minimum statutory holiday entitlement.

It is always a good idea to clarify a worker’s holiday entitlement in their contract of employment or written terms and conditions of employment so there can be no room for doubt. It is a legal requirement that employees are given a written statement of the main terms, including those relating to annual leave, public holidays and holiday pay, within two months of starting work.  Even if there is nothing in writing at all, the custom and practice of the employer in granting holidays is likely to have given rise to contractual rights.

Whatever the contract says or your custom and practice dictates, an employer cannot give employees and workers less than the statutory minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year and typically most retailers tend to give the statutory minimum. If an employee is not given their minimum paid holiday entitlement they will have a claim in the employment tribunal for the outstanding holiday entitlement.

An employee who works five days per week is also entitled to a minimum of 28 working days’ paid leave a year (which can include any entitlement to public holidays).  Someone who works two days a week is entitled to 11.2 working days’ leave.  Where someone works on a casual basis, an entitlement of 5.6 weeks is equivalent to 12.07% of hours worked (5.6 weeks ÷ by 46.4 weeks [52 weeks – 5.6 weeks] x 100 = 12.07 %).  So, if someone works 10 hours in a week, they are entitled to 1 hour and 12.4 minutes’ paid leave. However, it is unlawful to pay workers rolled up holiday pay. Employees should be paid for holiday when they are off work on leave rather than having it included in their hourly rate. This means the recording of holiday or annual leave entitlements is absolutely crucial.

When it can be taken

Employers should have their own rules about booking holidays, and ideally these should be displayed clearly. A holiday chart is also useful to record the times when staff are off work, and it does help to avoid too many people taking the same period of time off.

If an employee wants to take two weeks’ holiday but there are no formal rules laid down by the employer then the law says that the employee must give twice as much notice as the holiday leave required. This means the employee must give at least four weeks’ prior notice.

If they want to take holiday when other people are off, then the employer can give counter-notice but this must be equivalent to the time off that was requested, that is two week’s notice that the holiday can not be taken.

Bank and public holidays

A worker’s contract should state what the position is with regard to public holidays.  There is no right to take holiday on a bank holiday unless the employer has agreed it in the contract or in respect of a specific request for leave on that day, so employers are within their rights to insist that staff work on a bank holiday if that is when their business is open.  However, care must be taken when the government announces additional bank holidays, such as the recent one for the Queen’s Jubilee on 5 June. Workers may feel entitled to the day off but if their contract states that they are entitled to “the 8 bank holidays in England and Wales” or the “usual bank holidays”, they can only have the additional day off with the employer’s permission.

Holiday and sickness absence

Another contentious area is sick leave. If an employee is off sick they will continue to accrue holidays during their period of absence. If they had pre-booked a holiday and then fallen sick, they can take the holiday at a later date. However, it is always advisable to make it clear that employees must produce evidence of sickness and follow the usual sickness notification procedures. If the employee is off sick and wants to take holiday (presumably because they only get SSP if they are sick) then get the employee to put their request in writing.

If their contract is terminated, they are entitled on termination to pay in lieu of all the leave they have accumulated while they were off sick going back perhaps two or three years! Employers are advised if any employee does ask to reclassify a period of holiday as sickness, to make it clear that the normal sickness notification rules apply before any payment will be made for the day. SSP is not payable to people on holiday outside the EU.

This blog has been provided by Ellis Whittam. They provide fixed fee employment law and health and safety advice to retail clients nationwide and the company has been recognised by the Best Companies 2012 list which saw its legal practice receive an ‘Outstanding’ accreditation. For more information visit or call 0845 2268393. Twitter: @elliswhittam


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
This entry was posted in Independent Retailer Month - Blog-a-day for #IndieRetail and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Independent Retailer Employment Advice from @elliswhittam for #IndieRetail

  1. Pingback: A blog-a-day for #IndieRetail | Clare Rayner: The Retail Champion

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