Legal Article - Employment Law

Principles of Good Employment Practice: Employee Leave

Employers and employees are free to agree whatever terms they wish in relation to time-off rights, subject only to the statutory requirements described above. It is best for the terms agreed to be in writing to avoid any disputes about entitlement.

Holiday rights must be written down in the Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment. Any ambiguity in the written terms as regards time-off, or where there are no written terms and there is a dispute over custom and practice rights, can be resolved by the courts.

For example, there is no statutory right for an employee to receive accrued holiday pay in lieu of holiday entitlement not taken. If the employer does not wish to give accrued holiday pay, this must be put in writing in the contract of employment otherwise the courts will imply such a term.


Further, if accrued holiday pay is given this can be calculated on a calendar basis and not a working day, unless there is a written term (or long standing custom and practice) to the contrary i.e. a day’s pay calculated on the basis of 1/365th of annual salary and not 1/260th, which is the proportion of working days.

For statutory time-off rights both parties should try to agree in advance the pattern of time-off rights required by the particular duties in question in relation to the requirement of the business.

The minimum attendance requirements for each magistrate’s bench can normally be obtained from the Clerk to the Justices, or from the tribunal staff in the case of statutory tribunals. In the case of local authorities, meetings of the Council and its committees usually follow a fixed pattern.

Employers should ask for documentary confirmation that the time-off request is genuine, or was in fact taken for the purpose stated, whenever possible. For example, when time-off for sickness occurs the employer can ask for a medical certificate after seven days of absence, or if less than seven days can require the employee to complete a self-certification form.

Published: 27 May 2011

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