Zero hours contracts: do I get paid holiday and what are my rights?

Half of people on zero hours contracts think they are not entitled to paid holiday, but they are wrong. Find out your rights.

Many zero contract workers are not aware of their legal rights when it comes to holiday pay.

A survey by Citizens Advice has revealed that half of people on zero hours contracts, and two in five people on temporary contracts, wrongly believe they are not entitled to paid holidays.

A zero hours contract is where you are employed with no minimum hours you are expected to work.

It means your employer isn’t obliged to give you any work and you aren’t obliged to work any hours.

Paid leave: how much are you owed?

Between a third and half of employers now use fixed term or temporary workers and 57% use variable hours or shift workers.

But, just because you aren’t contractually obliged to work a minimum number of hours, doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to certain legal rights.

Most workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year.

If you work five days a week that works out as 28 days annual leave.

This can include bank holidays.

Part-time workers: paid leave entitlement

If you work part-time you are also entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year – but this falls based on how many days you work.

For example, if you only work two days a week then you would qualify for 11.2 days paid leave a year (2x5.6 days = 11.2), while if you worked three days you’d get 16.8 days in total.

If you work variable hours then you are still entitled to paid holiday leave, but working out how much is a little more complicated.

But, the Government provides an online calculator to help you work out your personal paid holiday allowance.

Know your rights on paid leave

Unfortunately, Citizens Advice’s research has revealed that thousands of people aren’t aware of the paid holiday they can take.

This is partly down to employers not understanding the law either, but also some are deliberately lying to their employees about their rights.

“Thousands are missing out on rights they are entitled to due to a lack of awareness, confusion and in some cases deliberate dirty tactics by employers,” says Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“With more than half of employers having staff working shifts or variable hours, action needs to be taken now to protect workers’ rights.”

Over the past financial year 185,000 people turned to Citizens Advice for help on employment issues – 10,000 of those cases were specifically about paid holiday.

One man had worked in a care home for over five years, working 48 hours a week.

His employer had told him that night workers were not entitled to paid holiday.

After speaking to Citizens Advice he found he had missed on holiday pay worth £8,900.

In another case a woman who worked in sales was told by her employer that she could only take holiday if she met her sales targets, which is unlawful.

Citizens Advice is now calling on the next Government to take steps to help people understand their employment rights.

This means combining enforcement of employment rights into one Fair Work Authority that can tackle employers who break the law.

Also, putting a £50 cap on employment tribunal fees so that people aren’t prevented from taking on their employers due to financial constraints.

Finally, Citizens Advice wants a definition in law of self-employment in order to prevent exploitative employers restricting people’s rights and access to minimum wage, and paid sick leave and holiday.

“There’s been welcome attention from political parties on issues surrounding rights at work, and we hope that the next Government takes steps to make people’s jobs and income more secure,” says Guy.


Know your rights! Read more on loveMONEY:

How Section 75 Protects you when you pay by credit card

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