Different Types of Unpaid and Paid Leave Entitlement in the UK

When people mention leave entitlement, the first thing that may come to mind is paid holiday entitlement. However, there are many other types of leave that can apply to employees in the UK, we’ve gone over the types of unpaid and paid leave entitlement below.

Annual Leave

Annual leave, also known as statutory leave entitlement is the amount of paid holiday all employees are entitled. Each employee should be entitled 5.6 weeks paid leave. This kind of paid leave entitlement is calculated by multiplying the number of days work in a week by the annual paid leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

Shared Parental Leave

Employees who are adopting a child or having a baby can benefit from shared parental leave. To be eligible for this kind of paid leave entitlement, the maternity leave the mother is entitled to must be ended first. The paid leave entitlement for shared parental leave is 52 weeks (minus any time previously taken as maternity leave).

Maternity Leave

Women who are having a baby are allowed to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The initial 26 weeks are referred to as ordinary maternity leave and the last 26 weeks would generally be referred to as additional maternity leave. Employees don’t have to take the 52 weeks, but they have to take a fortnight after the baby is born (4 weeks for factory workers).

Paternity Leave

Men that are expecting to become fathers or are partners of an expecting mother are eligible for paternity leave. It can be either one or two weeks (taken together or separately) and need to be taken within 56 days of the birth for this paid leave entitlement.

Adoption Leave

Adoption leave works in a similar way to maternity leave. It can only be taken by one person. It consists of 26 weeks of ordinary paid leave entitlement and 26 weeks of additional leave. Paid time off can also be given to the employee for up to five appointments to meet with the child after being matched. Paid leave entitlement for adoption can start up to 14 days before the child starts living with the employee (for UK adoptions), on the day of arrival in the UK (for overseas adoption) or within 28 days of the arrival.

Sick Leave

When an employee falls ill, he or she is allowed to take paid leave entitlement to sick leave. Employees only need a fit note (also called sick note) from a GP after 7 days off sick. The note should let the employer know if the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’. Being ill just before or during annual leave means that the paid holiday can be replaced with sick leave.

Public Holidays

UK bank holidays do not automatically count as paid holidays. It is up to the employer to decide whether public holidays are a part of the employee’s annual holiday entitlement or not. Employees should check their employment contracts to see which paid leave entitlement case applies to them.

Time off for Dependents

Employees should be able to take time off to deal with an emergency that involves a dependant of theirs. A dependant can be a member of the employee’s family (spouse, children, parent or grandchildren) who requires on full-time care. There is time limit laid out in law but a reasonable amount of leave time should be allowed to the employee so they can deal with the situation. Employers do not have to pay employees for this type of time off. Check your employment contract or employee handbook to see what the rules are in your case.

Other Types of Unpaid and Paid Leave Entitlement

Some employees should be allowed a reasonable amount of time off to perform public duties (if they are a member of a school council or health authority for example). All employees have to be allowed time off for jury duties. Employers do not have a responsibility to offer this time as paid leave entitlement but can choose to do so.

Careers breaks are not regulated by a set of laws and are more an agreement between the employee and employer. Employers don’t have to offer careers breaks, but if they want to, policies and rules should clearly be laid out. If an employer decides the employee cannot return to their job, the employee cannot take legal action as the agreements around career breaks are not legally binding.

Need help navigating around the different types of leave and how to set up policies and processes to help manage all the paid leave entitlements and rules of your people? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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