August 1 2014.

Employees and workers rank their entitlement to annual leave as one of the most important benefits that they receive. But there are a number of issues for employers to be aware of as recently underlined by European Court of Justice (ECJ) findings.

Holiday entitlement can sometimes be something of a grey area, but the basics are that employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks' annual leave per year which amounts to 28 days per year for those who work five days a week. A part time worker’s allowance is reduced pro rata. For shift workers, an employer must calculate leave based on the average shifts worked during the 12-week period immediately prior to the requested leave period.

Public holidays can count towards the worker's entitlement to annual leave but there is no statutory right for an employee to take bank or public holidays. Part time workers who have a contractual right to bank or public holidays have a right to a pro-rated equivalent of their full time colleagues. It does not matter that the part time worker does not normally work on the day on which the bank/public holiday falls.

The default position in terms of unused statutory holiday is usually that it expires at the end of the holiday year. Now, new European rulings have changed the landscape a little with a recent report highlighting that the ECJ has determined that holiday benefits should not be lost when an employee dies before claiming them. The ECJ’s decision appears to mean that compensation for the lost holiday entitlement should pass to the estate in those circumstances.

Motorcycle Trader will report more on this subject in its September 2014 issue.