HRWhat Is Holiday Entitlement For Zero Hours Contracts In The UK?

What Is Holiday Entitlement For Zero Hours Contracts In The UK?

In your business, you might have a diverse set of employees, and with this can come zero-hours employees, who may find this option to be more flexible in their lives, and allows them to pursue other things.

In short, zero-hour employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year, which is the same as regular employees, and may include bank holidays if you can do this, but as long as you meet this holiday requirement, you shouldn’t face any issues.

Below is how you can calculate holiday entitlement rates for your zero-hour employees and how you can avoid any disputes with your employees, making a much more satisfied and productive workforce. 

How Do I Calculate Holiday Entitlement?

Any employee holiday requirement adds up to 28 days a year of annual leave, and it’s up to the employer whether they add bank holidays into this allocation, so employees may have to book these days off as part of their entitlement.

For zero hour employees, they begin to generate holiday leave as soon as they start working for you, and you might find their leave is easier to calculate as they may work different hours each week. 

As a rule, you should give zero-hour employees 12.07% of the hours they work in a week, so if your employee works 12 hours a week, they will garner 84 minutes, or an hour and twenty-four minutes. The calculator looks like this:

  • 12.07% divided by 100, and times this value by the number of hours worked that week 
  • Your answer will come in the hour format, which you can turn into minutes if you desire

What About Statutory Leave?

Now you have holiday leave sorted, what if the employee takes statutory sick, paternity or maternity leave? 

Just like regular contracts, zero-hour employees get much of the same entitlement, but it depends on whether or not the employee has had three months of continuous employment with you, and isn’t broken by periods of sickness, annual leave, or if the employee isn’t offered work.

The only circumstance where this becomes void is if there is a trade dispute which results in strikes, which don’t get added to the continuous service amount, or if the employee has been given a written notice terminating their employment. 

For maternity or paternity leave, a zero-hour employee has much of the same right regarding pay, which is usually 90% for the first six weeks, and any time after this might reduce to a standard rate, which may be the same for someone who is off sick. 

Can Zero-Hours Employees Carry Over Holidays?

This will depend on the type of industry your business is in, as if it is classed as a key industry, which includes financial services, trade, or transport, to name a few, there is the rule that 1.6 weeks or just over 11.2 days can be carried over. 

You can, however, request an employee takes a holiday or cancel it if you give enough notice, and generally, the employer will set out this period in the contract, but the employer needs the employee’s agreement in order to make any of these changes. 

There might be circumstances where you have to allow an employee to carry their full holiday entitlement over to the following year, and these apply to those who cannot take this leave due to illness or being on maternity leave.

Other Things To Consider

Other Things To Consider

So you have much of the conditions here, but you might be wondering how you can make these terms clear to your zero-hours employees, as there can be some confusion over these as these workers have to fulfil certain conditions, many of which are set above.

Below are some tips you can follow to ensure that you have a clear policy and that you can solve any disputes, as you want to avoid any legal issues due to something like pay or adequate leave entitlements.

Make It Clear In The Employee’s Contract

Just like your other employees, you have to have some form of contract to ensure that they can legally provide you with their labour, so if you want to avoid any ambiguity or any issues later on down the line, you or an employee working in HR can use a zero hour contract template.

The great thing about these is that they are compliant with data protection laws, but it can be best to make sure that your HR department or anyone who is tasked with the running of admin should have a good understanding of these regulations.

Be Sure To Maintain Communication 

Whether this comes from you, HR, or the next person in the management team, it is a good idea to maintain communication in regards to any changes in your businesses policy or a request for someone to work more hours, as in law, a zero hours worker can decline to work their given hours.

With a good level of openness and clarity, there’s a good chance your employee will be able to come to you in regards to any problems they have, and we all know a happier and more positive work environment means fewer inefficiencies and more productivity as a result. 


Getting things right regarding your zero-hour employees doesn’t have to be complicated. You may find this flexible approach to working benefits your business in many ways, one being that you have the right amount of employees working at any given time.

As long as you stay within the bounds of the law and your employee’s rights and responsibilities are made clear, you can give your business a better impression for any future employees you might hire. All of this can start by getting your pay conditions right, and it can be easier than you think.

Written by

Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson is one of our expert writers. Mark is our lead researcher and editor who writes our main guides and expert topic coverage. He’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with practical advice delivered clearly. Mark’s worked for a number of business magazines and titles and has started two small businesses himself, so has first-hand experience in setting up, managing and growing a small business and shares his expertise with our readers.

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