All About Employee Leave & PTO in the United Kingdom

Learn what you need to know about leave requirements in the UK and how Justworks EOR can help you streamline hiring.

Trusted Reviews

How an EOR Can Help with Employee Leave & PTO

Different countries have different leave requirements and norms around vacation time. When hiring in the UK, Justworks EOR can help you understand the cultural nuances with localized guidance. With Justworks as your partner, you’ll feel more confident your leave policies comply with federal requirements and meet prospective employees’ expectations. 

We’ll help you hire more quickly and manage HR tasks like running payroll, filing taxes, accessing benefits, staying on top of compliance, and more.

Employee Leave & PTO Expectations in the UK

Employees in the UK are entitled to mandatory annual leave, paid holidays, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, and a few other miscellaneous types of leave.

Vacation Leave 

Typically employees in the UK receive a minimum of 5.6 weeks (about 28 days) of paid annual leave, whether this paid time off includes national holidays is up to employers. Employees aren’t entitled to roll over leftover vacation time or receive payment instead of vacation time. 

Personal Leave

Personal leave in the UK is available to permanent employees if they become critically ill or need to care for a family member. Personal leave times vary by circumstance. Employees who are the main caregivers to dependents with long-term care needs are entitled to unpaid leave to care for them. 

Sick Leave

Employees can receive statutory sick pay (SSP) if they’re too ill to work, as long as they provide proof. Employers must pay employees at least £116.75 per week for up to 28 weeks while an employee is on sick leave. Employees sick for over 4 weeks are still entitled to annual leave.

Maternity & Paternity Leave 

In the UK, pregnant employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, 26 weeks before birth and 26 weeks after. Eligible employees may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks. New mothers receive 90% of the employee's average weekly pre-tax earnings for the first six weeks and £184.03 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for 33 weeks. 

Fathers are entitled to two weeks of paid paternity leave and receive 90% of average weekly earnings or £184.03 (whichever is lower).

Employee Leave & PTO Expectations in the UK Image

Parental Leave

Parents can take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave per child, limited to four weeks per year until the child turns 18. This leave must be taken in week-long increments, with 21 days' notice to the employer. Additionally, parents of infants needing specialist neonatal care are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave.

Bereavement Leave

Employees are entitled to take time off to deal with the death or critical illness of a close family member or child. Parents can take up to two weeks of bereavement leave and receive SSP if they’ve lost a child under the age of 18 or experienced a stillbirth. Otherwise, there is no specific statutory requirement for bereavement leave, but most employers allow three to five working days off.

Public Holidays in the UK

In the UK, employees are entitled to paid time off on national holidays, no matter how long they've been employed. These vary by country. Wales and England have eight, Scotland has 9, and Northern Ireland has 10 public holidays. Employers are not required to pay employees for this time off, but they must provide the additional Monday off if a holiday falls on a weekend. 

Public holidays in the UK: 

  • New Year's Day - January 1

  • Good Friday - Friday before Easter

  • Easter Monday - Monday following Easter 

  • Early May Bank Holiday - 1st Monday in May  

  • Spring Bank Holiday - Last Monday of May 

  • Summer Bank Holiday - Last Monday of August

  • Christmas Day - December 25

  • Boxing Day - December 26

  • The Twelfth - July 12 (only Northern Ireland) 

  • August Bank Holiday - 1st Monday in August in Scotland and last Monday in August for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

  • St. Andrew’s Day - November 30 (only Scotland)

  • Hogmanay - January 2 (only Scotland)

Ready to Hire Confidently in the United Kingdom?

Justworks EOR makes building your global team seamless by offering local expertise to help you understand the nuances of the talent market in the UK. Save yourself the time and hassle of international hiring today.

Questions? We've Got You Covered