Do You Know the Law on Leave of Absence?

The Government holiday entitlement claims that all full-time workers are legally entitled to 28 days’ paid annual leave per year, but do you know the law when other reasons mean staff legitimately need to take time off?

Below are some of the reasons why you may need to give your staff either paid or unpaid leave:


It is inevitable that at some point in your staff members’ career they are going to need some time off for sickness. Each individual can receive up to 28 week’s statutory sick pay (SSP) over a three-year period, however should members of your staff be persistently absent, it may be best to manage this through disciplinary action.


Unpaid rest breaks of 20 minutes must be taken by staff after 6 hours, however if your staff member is under 18 they require a 30 minute break after 4.5 hours. Your spa or salon staff must also have at least one day off work each week or two per fortnight. For those under 18, this time off increases to two consecutive days off a week.


If training days occur on your staff member’s day off then typically they are paid as this constitutes as work. Alternatively a day in lieu could be given.

Parental Leave

Maternity leave (or shared parental leave) can be up to 12 months and in the run up to this time, your pregnant staff members can have paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. Fathers are also entitled to unpaid leave for two antenatal appointments.

Sunday Working

Although you can opt out of Sunday working, even if they have agreed to work Sundays in their contract, you as an employer must write to each employee within two months of their start date to inform them that they can opt out. This doesn’t apply if Sunday is the only day that the employee has been contracted to work on.

Flexible Hours

The Government in the UK enforced a new law in July 2014 that gives all employees with a minimum of 26 weeks’ service to ask for flexible hours. Requests for flexible hours must be made in writing and must be decided on within three months. Employers must have a genuine business reason for rejecting requests.

Unpaid Leave

Employees have a legal right to time off for the following reasons: performing public duties, such as being a local authority Councillor or school governor; trade union activities or to attend unexpected emergencies with dependents.

Jury Service

When an employee gets called for Jury Service it isn’t necessary to pay staff, however it is important for you as an employer to complete a loss of earnings form.