In the UK, employees are entitled to a certain amount of paid holidays each year. This statutory holiday entitlement is given to people who work full or part time. These statutory holidays are applicable to all employees regardless of length of time with an employer. Time off is worked out on a fairly simple system where you will be entitled to a set number of days of annual leave dependent upon the number of days per week you work. The formula is 5.6 multiplied by the number of days per week you work, so for instance, if you work a five day week, it is 5.6 x 5 = 28, so you would be entitled to 28 days of paid annual leave. If you work 3 days per week, then it would be 5.6 x 3 = 16.8 days of paid holiday annually. This figure includes public / bank holidays.
Your employer must give you a contract of employment which will normally state how much leave you will receive. There is no upper limit on how much leave you can have, this is at the discretion of your employer but it will never be less than the statutory limit. There are of course exceptions to the rules and those employed in the armed services, the police and some civil servants do not get standard statutory holidays, they are given contractual holidays which are generally more than 28 days of paid leave per year.
Prior to the 1st of April 2009, employees were entitled to 4.8 weeks of paid holiday per year under the statutory holiday rules, however, this has been increased to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year. When the leave year begins varies from company to company, some will begin on the 1st of April and end on the 31st of March and all annual leave must be taken within that period. This information will be found in your employee contract. As a general rule, any leave not taken within the year will be lost, occasionally at your employers discretion, you will be allowed to carry it over to the following year. When you started working for an employer will set the amount of holiday you will be entitled to, for instance, if you started your new job in October and the holiday year begins on the 1st of April, you will be entitled to half the statutory annual paid leave for that year. The following year, providing you remain with that employer, you will be entitled to the full amount.
Many people think that they are entitled to take bank holidays off but this is not the case. You need to check your employment contract to see whether you can take these holidays off or not. Depending on the business you work for, you may be expected work over bank holidays. You will not lose out though, you will be able to take these days at some other time over the year or as a part of your annual leave entitlement. There are eight bank holidays per year in England and Wales, ten in Northern Ireland and nine in Scotland. These days are incorporated into your statutory holidays and you can take them at any time, with your employer's approval - you will normally have to book your holiday time with your employer beforehand.
If you are an employer and are unsure of the legislation surrounding statutory holidays, you will need to talk to someone with knowledge of human resources legislation and employment law.