All workers have the right to the minimum of 24 days’ paid holiday per year (28 days’ on 1 April 2009). Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 24 days’ holiday entitlement. Part-time workers are entitled to the same holidays as full-time workers, calculated on a pro rata basis.
Payment for untaken statutory leave entitlement on termination of Employment is allowed but workers are not entitled to carry leave over into the following year, nor may they receive payment in lieu to replace unused leave.
An employee is entitled to reasonable time off for the purpose of performing his public duties. But an employee is not entitled to statutory payment for his days off for public duties.
There is no statutory right to have time off for jury service or to attend court as a witness. However, an employer who prevents such attendance would be in contempt of court. Jurors may claim an allowance for traveling subsistence and financial loss.
Trade union activities, duties and training
Officials of independent trade unions are entitled to time off with pay to perform duties concerned with the industrial relations in the company and to undergo training. There is also a right to time off to accompany another worker at disciplinary and grievance hearings. Union members are entitled to time off without pay in order to take
part in trade union activities.
Elected employee representatives
An employee who has been elected for consultation purposes for collective redundancies or the transfer of an undertaking is entitled to reasonable paid time off to perform the functions of a representative. He also has the right to paid time off to undergo training.
Safety representatives who have been appointed by recognised trade unions are entitled to paid time off during working time to carry out their functions and undergo training in aspects of these functions. Representatives of workplaces are also entitled to paid time off to carry out their functions and undergo training.
All pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care, irrespective of their length of service or the number of hours worked by them.
All employees who are expecting a baby are entitled to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave, regardless of their length of service or hours of work. Employees who are expecting a baby and have 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer by the beginning of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth (i.e. her 26th week of pregnancy) are entitled to additional maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, beginning at the end of the ordinary maternity leave.
An employee who is declared redundant and has at least two years’ continuity of employment is entitled to reasonable, paid time off to look for a new job or to arrange training for a new job.
Both men and women are entitled to take up to 13 weeks’ unpaid leave from work for the purpose of caring for a child for whom they have responsibility, subject to satisfying certain qualified conditions. Parents of disabled children have a right to take 18 weeks’ unpaid leave.
Parental leave may be taken not just in connection with caring for a child’s health. For example, it can be used for the purposes of settling the child into a playgroup, taking a child on holiday or simply staying at home with the child.
A person qualifies for the right to parental leave if he is an employee with at least one year’s continuous service and has, or expects to have, responsibility for a child.
It is a fundamental principle that the right to parental leave is an individual one and will be non-transferable. This means that both parents will be able to take up to 13 weeks’ leave if they are both working, but they will not be able to add their leave entitlement so that one employee can take more than 13 weeks and the other less.
Parental leave may be taken before the child’s fifth birthday or where he has been adopted, during a period of five years or up to the age of 18, whichever is the sooner.
Time off for dependants
All employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with incidents involving a dependant. Incidents include illness, injuries, unexpectedly break down, giving birth, death, etc. Dependants are defined as the employee’s parent, wife, husband or partner, child or someone who lives as part of the family.
No predetermined maximum is set on the amount of time off which can be taken. However, normally one or two days will usually be the most that are needed to deal with the immediate issues and to sort out longer-term arrangements if necessary.