Your Working Time – Breaks, Rests and Holidays

Your terms and conditions (contract) should specify the dates and times that you are to work. Otherwise, your employer is obliged to provide you with details of the times you have to work, at least 24 hours beforehand. You are entitled to breaks during your work and rest periods between work as follows: Aged 18 and over: The amount of holidays you receive is normally set out in your contract of employment. Although your employer may offer you more, the minimum rights are:

  • you get a minimum of twenty eight days per year (5.6 weeks)
  • you start building up holiday as soon as you start work
  • you get paid your normal pay for your holiday
  • when you finish a job, you get paid for any holiday you’ve not taken


  • your employer can control when you take your holiday

You do not have a statutory right to paid leave on bank and public holidays.  If paid leave is given on a bank or public holiday, this can count towards your 28 days minimum holiday entitlement. If full-time workers get paid leave on a public holiday, part-timers who don’t normally work on that day have the right to paid time off on another day, proportionate to the hours they work. Some employers run an ‘accrual’ system, where holiday entitlement is built up over the year. This means that for every month you work, you become entitled to one twelfth of your annual entitlement. So, after six months, you are entitled to a half of your annual entitlement.

Sick Leave

Many employees will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are off work due to sickness. If you are off sick for more than four days you may be able to claim SSP. This is set out by law and is paid to you by your employer. In addition, some employees may receive occupational sick pay from their employer but this will depend on their contract of employment.

Maximum working hours

Your normal working hours should be set out in your contract of employment. Unless you choose to (or you work in a sector with its own special rules):

  • Your employer is prohibited from making you work more than an average of 48 hours a week for each 7 day period. Your average working hours are calculated over a 17-week period.
  • If you are a night-worker – i.e. you work between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am – your employer cannot make you work more than an 8 hour shift.