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I'm in the UK and I've recently changed jobs. My old job gave me 25 holiday days per calendar year and since January I'd taken 13 of them, giving me 12 days holiday remaining at the time I handed in my notice.

When handing in my notice I wasn't given the opportunity to take these holiday days as holiday, but instead I was told I'd be paid for the days I had remaining.

This morning I've found my final payslip along with a copy of my P45 in the post. It contains the following:

Your holiday entitlement pro-rata for 1st January to 10th August is 15 days, so three days pay have been added to the payslip.

I was expecting 12 days worth of pay for my remaining holidays, but have instead only received pay for three of them. The contract I signed mentioned nothing about holiday accruing over the course of the year, and instead explicitly states:

HOLIDAYS: 25 days per annum.

I'd been at this company for over three years, and in 2015 I had used up all 25 of my annual holiday days by March, so there was no system in place to prevent me from using up all 25 of my annual holiday days right near the start of the year. This means that I could have used up all 25 of my holiday days at my old job prior to handing in my notice.

This has left me feeling as though I'm owed 9 days worth of holiday pay. I've come here to simply ask: is this normal practice or have I seen these 9 days taken away from me unfairly?

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, scaaahu, Kate Gregory, rath, Rory Alsop Aug 18 '17 at 14:46

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    This is hard to tell for us, it sounds like a legal question. I personally would accept the 3 days because it seems logical to me, but others have other opinions I guess. I see why you'd be annoyed tho – Mafii Aug 18 '17 at 8:19
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    To address the fact that you were able to use leave at the start of the year; it's not uncommon for companies to allow employees to dip into negative leave. You get paid 25 days of leave per year. You weren't there for an even amount of years, so it's logical to assume you'd only receive a ratio of the leave. – Rob Aug 18 '17 at 8:21
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    "This means that I could have used up all 25 of my holiday days at my old job prior to handing in my notice." Maybe. Unless your country's employment laws handle this type of vacation differently (they do here), it's normal for these days to be prorated. If you had said to your old employer "I'll take those 12 days before my final day here." They would probably have told you no as well. Perhaps you could have taken all 25 days before handing in your notice but that's more of a legal question. This is stuff you should look up before resigning, it might be off-topic here. – Lilienthal Aug 18 '17 at 8:21
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    It's very common (almost universal) that paid leave is only paid out / able to be taken for the portion of the year that you were actually working. Meaning if you quit 6 months into a year you'll only get half your paid vacation days for that year paid out (or be able to take them). – Magisch Aug 18 '17 at 8:25
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    It sounds entirely logical to me, and every company I've worked for works the same. (This is one reason why, when you start a new job, you can't just take 25 days holiday immediately). If you'd taken all 25 prior to leaving, you'd probably have to pay back 10 days worth of holiday. – Steve Smith Aug 18 '17 at 12:40
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For details you'd need to check your employment contract, but in all contracts I have ever had or heard about, holiday entitlement is reduced proportionally if you do not work a full calendar year.

So if you only work three months in a given year (because you only started in October, or because you quit, or possibly because of unpaid leave), you only get 3/12=25% of your yearly entitlement.

This is independent of country, as far as I know. For the UK specifically, there is an official page on https://www.gov.uk aptly titled Holiday entitlement. There, section Calculate leave entitlement makes it explicit:

Annual leave begins to build up (‘accrue’) as soon as a worker starts their job.

An employer can use a ‘leave year’ or an ‘accrual’ system to work out how much leave their staff should get.

So yes, it seems like your employer handled this correctly.


To address your specific question about taking holidays:

I'd been at this company for over three years, and in 2015 I had used up all 25 of my annual holiday days by March, so there was no system in place to prevent me from using up all 25 of my annual holiday days right near the start of the year. This means that I could have used up all 25 of my holiday days at my old job prior to handing in my notice.

Yes - many employers let you take your holidays even before you have accrued them, on the assumption that most workers will not quit in any given year. However, if you then quit before the year is over and have taken more than your proportional share of holidays, you may have to pay them back, depending on your contract. This is mentioned on the pages I linked above under Taking holiday before leaving a job:

Taking more leave than the entitlement

If a worker has taken more leave than they’re entitled to, their employer must not take money from their final pay unless it’s been agreed beforehand in writing. The rules in this situation should be outlined in the employment contract, company handbook or intranet site.

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    That makes sense. I figured as much. Thanks for the quick response! – James Donnelly Aug 18 '17 at 8:28
  • @JamesDonnelly Check your employment contract. I can't remember ever seeing one where it said excess holiday would be unpaid. – Martin Bonner Aug 18 '17 at 12:24
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    @MartinBonner, FWIW, my last contract stated that in the case of having taken more holiday than accrued at the time of leaving, the employer "may deduct an appropriate sum from your final payment, or alternatively, by mutual agreement, may arrange for you to work some or all of these additional days without further pay at a later date." It's clearly quite vague, but they left the options there. I suspect in reality, unless the amount was excessive (e.g. take four weeks in Jan, then leave in March) they wouldn't bother. – zelanix Aug 18 '17 at 13:15

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